Hearts Open to God

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“All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps; maggots are spread out beneath you and worms cover you.” – Isaiah 14:11

Dear Friends,

Well… if that verse doesn’t get your attention…

It’s that kind of verse, where God, through the prophet Isaiah, challenges the the practices, especially involved in worship, that was such a central part of my faith growing up.  I grew up in a “Low Church” tradition, that didn’t put a lot of value in formalities or “liturgies” – I never saw a pastor in a robe and the responsive call to worship was about the only written words I ever saw as part of a worship service.  While we sang the doxology and prayed the Lord’s Prayer, it was somehow stuck in my mind that the only “real” prayers were extemporaneous, spoken on the spot, and never using someone else’s words.  I even looked down my nose at the idea of preparing prayers or writing sermon manuscripts.

The tradition I grew up in was a reaction to believers and churches who were practicing a faith in public that had lost any personal connection with Christ.  The kind of worship that over and over through the prophets, God condemns.

The problem… is when we lionize this new way of doing things and throw out the baby with the bath water.

Over the decades, after countless experiences in more “High Church” traditions and others, personal and corporate worship – college, seminary and continuing education throughout, I’ve realized the deep and abiding value in the words – the prayers and poetry and liturgy of clergy and laity alike, that were ready to nourish my soul, if only I was humble enough to receive them with fresh eyes.

We’re going to celebrate communion on Sunday.  And while no one will mistake it for the Catholic Mass or even a Classic High Church Presbyterian celebration, we do have our practices, that when we’re open, God can use them to move us in amazing ways.

I’ll never forget hearing from an elder, who remarked that every time the two servers step forward to re-cover the cup and the bread during the second verse of the closing hymn… brought them to tears.

What God uses to move some of us may not be what God uses to move all of us.  It might be the music, it might be the silence, it might be the scripture, it might be the faces of the people worshipping beside you, it might be the same words that are repeated each Sunday that God infuses with deep meaning into your heart each week… and it may be the re-covering of a cup and loaf of bread.

What matters is that our hearts and minds are open to God as we gather in worship and as long as that is the case, God can use absolutely anything to draw us deeper into Christ.

I’m so glad to be doing this with you!

Welcoming You to Grow in Jesus,

Pastor Don