\\ Text: Jn. 4:7-26
A writer in Christian Reader magazine told of her child singing a praise chorus that probably describes how God feels about our worship sometimes.
The praise chorus "We Exalt Thee" took on a whole new meaning when I heard my three-year-old daughter singing her version: "We exhaust thee. We exhaust thee, O Lord."
1) what is the place of ritual in worship?
a) Ritual can blind us to the things of God, or propogate the things of God.
***We have a problem in worship when we
· Feel more fore the form of worship than for the Father
· Seek the Symbols of worship more than the Spirit
· Reach out for ritual more than the reedeemer
--In Ritual and form, we can convey the faith
- the Apostle's creed
- the cross
- The Christian flag
b) Ritual can separate the people of God, or bind them together.
--Ther can get to be a prejudice in ritual that can separate people (Prejudice against excessive ritual can be just as devastating as prejudice for it)
2) What is the place of relationship in worship?
a) spirit to Spirit
***Ice Cream for the Soul
Last week I took my children to a restaurant. My six-year-old son asked if he could say grace. As we bowed our heads he said, "God is good. God is great. Thank you for the food, and I would even thank you more if mom gets us ice cream for dessert. And Liberty and justice for all! Amen!"
Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby I heard a woman remark, "That's what's wrong with this country. Kids today don't even know how to pray. Asking God for ice-cream! Why, I never!" Hearing this, my son burst into tears and asked me, "Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?" As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table. He winked at my son and said, "I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer." "Really?" my son asked. "Cross my heart." Then in
a theatrical whisper he added (indicating the woman whose remark had started this whole thing), "Too bad she never asks God for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes."
Naturally, I bought my kids ice cream at the end of the meal. My son stared at his for a moment and then did something I will remember the rest of my life. He picked up his sundae and without a word walked over and placed it in front of the woman. With a big smile he told her, "Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes, and my soul is good already.
--------EMail message recieved from Alcala Enid on 2/4/1999
b) God seeks us to worship Him
***Zeal in finding true worshippers
- as a Cow seeks a calf
- as a Bride her Husband and a Husband his bride
***God wants us to worship Him. He doesn't need us, for He couldn't be a self-sufficient God and need anything or anybody, but He wants us. When Adam sinned it was not he who cried, "God, where art Thou?" It was God who cried, "Adam, where art thou?"
-- A.W. Tozer, Worship: The Missing Jewel. Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 5.
c) corporate worship unites us as we worship Him.
Interestingly, of all the songs in the Book of Revelation, not one is a solo. The twenty-four elders sing and cast their crowns before His feet, the united voices of countless angels resound, every living creature in heaven and earth and under the earth and all that is in them are joined in one song. Those who are victorious over the beast are given harps and a song to sing. In every case multitudes of people or angels unite in the same song with absolute unity.
-- Graham Kendrick. Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 2.
3) What is the place of revelation in worship?
a) We allow ourselves to be revealed.
-bearing our soul before God. When God points something out, we cannot seek to cover it over or make excuse, or try to hide it. The moment we do, true worship ceases.
b) We embrace the revelation God gives us of Himself.
***the essence of faith is believing what God has said.
***C. S. Lewis in Letters to Malcolm
We--or at least I--shall not be able to adore God on the highest occasions if we have learned no habit of doing so on the lowest. At best, our faith and reason will tell us that He is adorable, but we shall not have found Him so, not have "tasted and seen." Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are "patches of Godlight" in the woods of our experience.