Text of the Week: “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24
Welcome to today’s services … and a special welcome to any worshipping with us for the first time. It’s good to meet together – that’s right at the heart of what we do Sunday by Sunday in our services. It’s a time to catch up with each other, a time to share our joys and our sadnesses. Coming to church is a bit like meeting up with the family. It’s where we get to know each other. It is only as we get to know each other that we can be a support to each other. It’s also a place to meet with God. That’s an awesome thought. Once the greetings are done, the conversations over take a moment or two to be quiet, to be still in the presence of God. And then realise that this is not just a place for us to meet with God but for God to meet with us. Let’s have a spirit of expectation. In the words of our service and in the silence of our thoughts God meets us: it may be a challenge that we need, it may be the peace and the comfort God alone can give. Today we continue our look at what it takes to be church: we are called to be Christ-centred, Bible-based, Spirit-filled, Inclusive and today … Worshipful. We are working through our GIFT course as we seek to ‘Grow In Faith Together’. Still to come: Prayerful, Missional, Well-managed (look out for the questionnaire we are launching today!) and Visionary.
Welcome and Call to Worship
MTS 2 Be still
Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
Introducing our Survey about Church at Highbury
A custom to follow
What customs do you have?
What things do you do regularly?
Reading: Luke 4:16-21
Jesus went to the synagogue as was his custom – met together to do what
Value of gathering together
A Hy-Spirit Song
Activities for all over 3
Gathering Together for Worship
What does it take to be church here at Highbury, our Highbury Congregational Church?
We are called to be Christ-centred, Bible-based, Spirit-filled, Inclusive and today … Worshipful. We are working through our GIFT course as we seek to ‘Grow In Faith Together’. Still to come: Prayerful, Missional, Well-managed (look out for the questionnaire we are launching today!) and Visionary. That’s going to lead us up to our Annual Meeting when we review the last three years and take stock of how we are doing and reflect on where we are going.
Worship is at the heart of what we do in Church – it is one of those things that sets us apart – it is the very nature of what it takes to be church. On Sunday at 10-30 and 6-30 we have our services of worship – what is it that makes worship so important to us.
So … why’s it important?
Let’s think tomorrow – someone asks you … so what did you do yesterday? I went to church – why do you do that?
Someone is making plans for next weekend – so what are you doing on Sunday? - I go to church. Why do you do that?
How would you respond to someone who asked you … Why go to church – what’s the point – what’s in it for me?
Time to share in two’s and threes and then with us all
My response … a bit off the wall. Actually what goes on in here is not the thing that really counts – it’s what goes on out there. It’s not the hour here that makes the difference – it’s what we do tomorrow and every day this week.
So for me what counts is the rest of life – the working week – but I believe it’s not just a week to drift through – life is not just to drift through – you can do anything.
God’s given us our life – and he gives us a new life – a new purpose – a real sense it’s worthwhile – an ultimate goal - there’s a presence to geth us trhgough, a strength to draw on. Jesus maps out for us what to do.
I believe God’s behind this world, in this world and makes a difference – and he makes a difference through those who are willing to follow him and follow in the footsteps of Jesus and find the difference he can make in their lives.
It matters what we do who we are what we say what we think. We can make a difference. And what counts is the rest of the week.
And that is what makes coming together for worship so important.
Football – what counts is what happens on match day – scoring goals, keeping goals out. So a new striker joins the club this week – his name is Wootton – he arrives and what counts is what he does out there in the match. But the manager says – I’ll see you at the training ground. He coan’t say – no I won’t bother with the training I’ll just turn up to play.
Coming together in church is the training ground – this is where we are challenged
Think of stewards stewarding an event – who are going to be present shaping a crowd and what they do - they have to go to the briefing first.
This is the briefing for the week.
To keep the car on the road and doing what it needs to do you have to take it to be filled up with petrol – an interesting analogy – with the use of the word ‘service’ – you take it to be serviced to keep it on the road to a service station to top up with petrol.
This is what keeps us on the road.
Worship is a two way thing – we need to focus on God – but it’s used by God to speak to us.
A two way thing.
We speak to God – God speaks to us.
It is how a football team works, it is how a briefing works, it is how you keep the car going – it is how God in Christ by the power of his spirit can make a difference in the world through us …
Jesus gathered together with others as was his custom – it’s what he did to sustain him.
And his first followers too:
What counts is out there for the rest of the week – and the great difference God in Christ by the power of his spirit can make in our lives – to change, transform, to comfort to challenge, to keep us going, to give us purpose, to give us direction – to make a difference.
And it is transformative.
One of the finest descriptions of what makes up worship is in Acts 2:42
The lives of the followers of Jesus have been transformed and they are bubbling over – something makes a difference.
It’s worth being part of.
It’s something that can make a difference to everyone.
The outpouring of the Spirit – everyone sees the difference it makes – and they want a stake in it.
What shall we do – b part of of the movement …
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.’ And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
That’s the elements of worship
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching
At the heart of what we do together is reading, sharing, opening ourselves to the Scriptrures and in the Scriptures reading through the eyes of Jesus as the Apostles have opened up to us. The teaching that’s been handed down.
Then interestingly the next thing is fellowship.
Fellowship with each other
It’s good to meet together – that’s right at the heart of what we do Sunday by Sunday in our services. It’s a time to catch up with each other, a time to share our joys and our sadnesses. Coming to church is a bit like meeting up with the family. It’s where we get to know each other. It is only as we get to know each other that we can be a support to each other.
It’s good to share greetings. It’s good to catch up with each other. This is where we can get to know each other. It’s not just a nice extra – it’s part of our worshp – it’s why we have brought our serving area for coffee and tea into the church so that it is very much part of what we do as we meet together.
Fellowship with each other.
But also fellowship with God.
It’s also a place to meet with God.
That’s an awesome thought. Once the greetings are done, the conversations over take a moment or two to be quiet, to be still in the presence of God. And then realise that this is not just a place for us to meet with God but it’s also a place for God to meet with us. Let’s have a spirit of expectation. In the words of our service and in the silence of our thoughts God meets us: it may be a challenge that we need, it may be the peace and the comfort God alone can give. Let’s come expectantly.
The breaking of bread – that’s something special for us – we build it into our worship once a month in the morning and once a month in the evening – we are doing what Jesus has done, what has been done by his followers down through the ages. Something that is very special. The presence of the Spirit with us as we eat and as we drink of the cup.
And the prayers. What draws us close to God and what draws God close to us. Speaking to God, listening to God – something to share together – prayers we share together. The power of prayer in coming together.
Syn agogoue – is the gathering together place
Con-gregation – the gathering together
It is as we gather together in the name of Jesus that the presence of Jesus is with us here in our midst
OBG 43 and 44 As we are gathered [Hy-Spirit]
There’s one more twist in the tale.
Can we keep this spirit of worship on into the week that lies ahead.
What we say with our lips do we live with our lives
I come back to that word service – it plays in so many ways.
We are called to serve God and to serve one another – and that is something that goes through the hwole of our lives.
In that conversation Jesus has with the woman at the well from Samaria that is very much to the fore.
A life shot through with service, a life shot through with worship
Reading: John 4:19-24
The woman said to him,
‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain,
but you say
that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.’
Jesus said to her,
‘Woman, believe me,
the hour is coming when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know,
for salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here,
when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth,
for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.
God is spirit,
and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’
It’s what’s in our hearts, what’s in our lives and not just what’s on our lips – and then that shapes us up for a week of service
The service doesn’t end with the grace – that’s when it begins!
MTS 1 Jesus, where can we find you?
Prayers of Concern
206 Come let us join our cheerful songs
Words of Blessing