Summary: This is a complete service, teaching through each of the parts of our worship service and including a sermon addressing conflict and the need to put love first.
For An Audience Of One
July 3, 2005 Worship Service
Leading Into Worship:
Why do we come to church? As you planned your long weekend, why did you include “Sunday – go to church” on your list of things to do? Here is a Top Ten:
10. Because praying for a 10 foot putt does NOT constitute an active prayer life.
9. Because saving people from the “heat” is what Christianity is all about!
8. Because this week’s absentee equals next week’s sermon illustration.
7. Because you helped pay for the church’s central air conditioning, you might as well enjoy it!
6. Because your quest to make the immortal words, "Give me wax for my board, keep me surfing for the Lord," a lifestyle choice, just hasn’t been as "gnarly" as you thought it would be!
5. Because the combination of sweaty bare legs and varnished pews makes you feel like you’re suffering for the cause of Christ!
4. Because the youth minister is preaching for the month of August and someone has to keep a record of his inappropriate illustrations and theological blunders!
3. Because all new sermons are a big plus in a season of reruns!
2. Because it makes your day to see the preacher sweat!
And the number one reason to come to church even though it is Summer is:
1. Because when we say that Jesus is the Lord of our lives, we do NOT mean 9/12ths of our lives!
I suspect our answers are a little different. Some of you came because it is habit – going to church is what you do on Sundays, period. That is a good habit! Let’s be really honest, some of you came because someone else made you – maybe a parent or a spouse. Some of you came because you were looking forward to seeing some friends – that is good too, it is called “fellowship”. Some came because you have had a difficult week or month, and you need a safe place to come and sit in the presence of God, pour out your heart to Him, and you expect that God will come and encourage you.
As good, or as bad, as all those reasons may be, there is really one main reason we come to church, and it is summed up in this verse from 1 John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.” We come to church because of the incredible love of God for us. Most of us come because we know that love, we have experienced the radical, life-transforming power of that love, and we have chosen and pledged to live our lives as Christians because of that love. Some of you are here because you need that love, you are searching for it and longing for it, and you are in the right place… if God so chooses, you can find it here this morning.
So what that means is that we are here to respond to the love of God for us. We are here to worship God – to bring God our offering of worship. A worship service like this is not for us – it is not our primary purpose to “get something out of it”, but rather to give to God. To offer Him our love and our thanks for everything He is and has done.
Each week, we pray, plan, and practice, with the sole goal being to bring an offering of worship. And when we think like that, we quickly come to the realization that we do not want to bring an offering to God that is poor. Or sloppy. Or thrown together, or not carefully crafted and thought through. Instead we want to bring an offering that is good, that we have spent time preparing, that will at least begin to express our gratitude and love for God. It is appropriate to think about it as a concert – as long as we all recognize that God is the only audience member – we are all participants, we are all on stage together, and we are all focused on an audience of one - God alone.
So this morning I want to lead us in worship a little differently than normal. This is going to be a sort of “behind the scenes” look; I intend to walk us through each part of the service with some explanation and teaching and preparation. Let me begin with our opening prayer.
The opening time of prayer is mostly about invitation and focus. While we have no set-in-stone phrase or prayers, the intention is the same. It is where we invite God into our midst, affirm that He is the focus and the reason, and where we turn our hearts and re-orient ourselves out of our messy lives and onto God. So let us do that now.