Call to Worship
If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens,
come to me and I will give you rest.
Take the yoke I give you.
Put it on your shoulders and learn from me.
I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest.
This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light.
Matthew 11: 28-30
Christ calls us to come to worship
To rest from the things that are troubling us
To learn what Christ can teach of life
To realise what we can offer to others
And so to return into the world to serve
Let us worship God
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them
What have I learned whilst working on the frontline of the virus pandemic?
- I’ve learned that medical staff have a wicked sense of humour.
- I’ve learned that Covid-19 has changed our world – not just on a global scale but even more intensely on a local scale and even more intensely than that on a personal scale.
- I’ve learned that life and death are so very near each other.
- I’ve learned that worship can happen in the most unlikely places.
- I’ve learned that few people die regretting that they have worshipped with God throughout their lives.
- I’ve learned that sometimes its really difficult to worship God.
Worshiping through the good times and the bad
It’s easy to surrender your life and will to God when everything is going well.
- When you have your health.
- When there’s no pandemic crisis.
- When the relationships you hold dear are flourishing.
It’s natural to praise God!
The question is: will we continue to recognise God for who he is when we are walking through the difficult times as well?
- What happens when you lose your job and you can’t afford to pay your bills?
- What happens when the people you love and trust fail you?
- What happens when you’re watching a friend die of Covid-19, and you suddenly realise just how hollow the words, “God works in mysterious ways,” can be?
These are the moments that will either shatter or solidify our faith. We can walk away, as many do, or we can accept that things will happen in this world that we will never understand. We must realise that God may not always allow the things we think he ought to, but he is still God nonetheless.
Relief in letting go
To choose to worship in these times is to pray, “You are all that I have, but it will be alright because you are all that I need.” To come to this realisation in the thick of trials is to know a peace beyond all understanding.
It’s my experience that the times when you have no choice but to rely on God for your most basic needs are the times you feel his presence more clearly than ever.
Most of our churches in the Western Partnership have either re-opened or are in the final stages of re-opening. Nobody is to feel pressured into coming back into the church space. I guess that we have all found out that we can worship very effectively locked down at home. But talking with those congregations that are already worshipping back at church suggests that people are relaxed and feel safe there (this is partly due to the sometimes-odd rules that we are following. Your elders will ensure that you get to see these rules before your return).
Worship is not and was never meant to be relegated to a particular time slot in our week. It is supposed to define every day of our lives; it is supposed to be the foundation from which every decision is made. But it is great to put a little time to one side to worship as a community. We were created to worship, and we will never find a greater satisfaction than when we are fulfilling that purpose.
Please consider the value that a brief (20 minute – I know its short but currently it’s a rule) time of worship in church will bring to your life and the lives of others.
Prayer (inspired by Psalm 23)
In the darkest valley,
at the banquet table;
in the hard work of life,
at the moments of ease;
in our day-to-day reality,
at times set aside for worship, for listening, for paying attention;
help us remember that your goodness and mercy follow us and our cups overflow.
The church is not simply a building, a steeple, a pew.
The church is the gathering together of all the people.
The church gathered, we can say to the world
“Welcome, come in, lay down your worries, and pick up hope and love”.
The church is us (each and every one of us) – together,
a beacon of hope to a needy world.
Let us make a date to meet soon in church
But for now – wherever you are, worship God.
Praise his holy name.
Rev Jim Williams