We have been thinking about the transendance of God in our worship gatherings. It seems that a lot of other pople are also thinking along the same lines. I found a couple interesting articles/blogs here and over at Ancient Future Worship.
I think that it would be very hard to enter into prayer without a sense of the transcendance of God. Maybe that is why so many people say they do not know how to pray or experience difficulty spending time with God. Prayer needs to be more than just reciting off a list of wants and wishes and even more than just reciting words of praise. I need to be able to sit in his presence and have him speak to me and then comes this tremendous sense of awe that God “is”, that he is present with us, that he cares.
The use of liturgical forms helps me to focus on God’s presence. Sometimes they are an act of worship in themselves and it removes the focus from me and what my mind is doing to an outside object or act that assists me to contemplate God. And somehow the liturgy, the lighting of a candle, the reading of a Psalm or a prayer carves out a bit of sacred space from the busyness of my ordinary routines more than a rushed prayer as I drive between kids activities or go from patient to patient at work.
Well it is strange – when there a group of teenagers around, by themselves or in a class that you are trying to lead, you can hardly get them to stop talking amoungst themselves long enough to pay attention to you. Get them up in front of an audience and you can hardly drag an answer out of them. It was quiz time for the returning CHICers today. I guess the real answers will come out in the changes we see in their lives not just in what they verbalize(or not) in front of a crowd.
Greg, who is getting ready to travel out to the Congo to spend 8 months living and working with Dr. Kongawi, did a very good job of presenting why and what he was going for. He is generally a very quiet guy. He actually has learned how to ask where the toilet is in Lingala. At least he can always go there and hang out if the more complex linguistic challenges get to him. Could be a bit like hanging out with the roaches in the back though – toilets being what they are in the Congo.
I think we did OK with the fundraising for him today too. I think he will learn a bit about living on a lot of faith these next few months. We had better hold down the flip side of that one – give and pray faithfully. He will have a totally unique experience as he will be living with little contact with other North Americans, no phone service, no stores, no place to get away – immersion into Africa. Dr Kongawi is the father of the two guys who have lived with us for the past nine years so we know he will be well looked after.
We worshiped in the lower sanctum today. Around tables no less – except for some of the older folks who took over the sofa – my dad included. It was good. It was good to think about how to be salt and light to our city. Now we just have to actually put it into action – that is the hard part. To find how God wants to use us and then do something about it instead of just pondering over the idea – forever – and never get anything happening. (And no! We will not look for committee members to organize this! That would surely kill it!)
We shared in communion today as well. To me this is the highlight of every month as far as my liturgical experiences go. To share in an act of remembrance so significant – well it is just very special to me. It reminds me every time what a great sacrifice he made and how he gave up so freely all he ever had to save us. First in the incarnation – God giving us his son to live among us becoming every bit as human as we are. Then in his death – giving up his very life for us so that we do not have to be defeated by evil. And we have the hope of living forever with him so that whatever we encounter on this pretty scary earth is not all there is.
We were out of comfortable pews today and it was OK. No one complained that I know of.
After church we had more than the usual numbers helping to wash up too. That was a small blessing in itself. I sent Michelle, my daughter-in-law on ahead to our house to start getting lunch ready. We put it in the oven and headed out for a quick trip to a potters house and workshop.
Michelle always has the neatest ideas for gifts and the wedding they are attending is special so a special gift is needed. She told me of some of the ideas she had but passed on – she is an environmentalist with strong links to our Saskatchewan land. One idea was taking the body of a dead but undamaged(for the most part she said) toad of some sort and having it bronzed. But she thought that although she would love it she wasn’t sure the friend’s bride would be. Another was the hawk she found and had mounted but thought the bride might have the same reaction as with the toad.
The pottery is very special. It is the form of a bison. A beautiful rich brown hue with just the right amount of darker brown mottling. The artist who sculpts these incorporates the ground remains of prairie buffalo bones into the clay. So they are a bit real bison. What a beautiful gift – a work of art and a bit of Saskatchewan.
This morning my worship involved getting up and having my own quiet time with God. At “church time” I was again filling my head with orthodontic facts.
I read from Matthew 12:9-14
Jesus didn’t fit in very well with the established religious community of his day. Their values were skewed. They had lots of detail in the rules they made and followed but those rules didn’t take them closer to God.
The Pharisees ask Jesus, “Is it legal to work by healing on the Sabbath day?”
They know the legalities – Jesus knew the correct answer – he didnt confront them with the narrowness of their legalities though. He asked them a question in return.
What is more valuable- a sheep who you can rescue because it is in your economic interests to do so – or a person of no economic value who needs help?
If the Pharisees had seen the world through the eyes of God – eyes of love and concern, they would have gotten it. Instead they see their way of life threatened and begin to plot against Jesus.
God is too much of a threat to the status quo.
What do we value more – our economic safety or peoples lives? We need to be careful of what becomes our driving force in life. Sometimes we need to forget the status quo and live more on the edge – out where God wants us.