Summary: We're to strive for our worship to be both reverent and filled with rejoicing. In order to do that we're going to have to rethink a few things.
Getting Fit: Worship
Rev. Brian Bill
How many of you participated in “White Elephant” gift exchanges over Christmas? The background to this crazy tradition comes from ancient Asia, where white elephants were the ultimate pampered pets. Because they were humungous and many thought they were holy, no expense was spared in caring for them. Unfortunately, to receive one of these pretty pets would wipe out most people because they couldn’t afford to keep it alive. Over time, these albino elephants came to symbolize a prized possession whose maintenance exceeded its worth.
There are often three words associated with a white elephant gift today – it’s usually useless, unusual and amusing. In light of that, what white elephant gift did you receive that you’re going to re-gift next year?
My favorite gift came from one of my Cheesehead relatives. It’s a paperback book with a very provocative title: “What Men Understand about Women: A Radical Peek inside the Minds of Men.” I was eager to learn about this topic so I quickly opened it up and discovered quickly why it qualified as a White Elephant gift. As I thumbed through the pages, I noticed that every page was blank! This book is not only blank, but I see a lot of blank stares in the congregation, especially from men right about now. Incidentally, during a conversation Friday night, one of the women in our home made this statement to me: “With four sisters you should know what a woman wants to hear.” I agreed and said that sometimes I need a push. To which Lydia replied, “Sometimes even a push isn’t enough!”
Something happened this week in our nation’s capital that I don’t think has ever taken place before. Do you know what it was? The U.S. House of Representatives opened their 2011 session by reading the entire United States Constitution out loud. It took them over two hours to do so. Why did they do this? Because when it comes to governing our great nation, it’s crucial to go back and read the original document.
I want to propose today that if you and I are going to learn how to develop the discipline of worship in our “Getting Fit” series we must go back to the Book. And thankfully, this book is not blank. Speaking of that, how are you doing in your Bible reading so far? If you’ve already missed a few days, that’s ok. Just get back in the saddle and jump in the Scriptures this week. If you don’t have a plan, pick one up today or go to www.pontiacbible.org under the “Resources” tab or if you want a free Bible and plan for your mobile device, go to: www.lifechurch.tv and download one. Speaking of the Bible, we’re going to hear a report from the Gideon’s next week and take a special offering for this ministry that will be used to purchase New Testaments in our county.
The way we use words is interesting to me. Each generation seems to have its own lingo. When I was in high school we used words like, hip, cool, far-out, out-of-sight, rad, and groovy -- I’ve tried to bring groovy back but whenever I use it, people just stare at me and think I’m out to lunch – maybe I need to wear my Leisure Suit and start listening to 8-Tracks again!
Words express a common understanding, and phrases serve as code words, or shortcuts. LOL, TTYL, and BRB have become part of everyday conversation. I read yesterday that the #1 word for 2010 was “App.” I try to keep up with what young people are saying today but I recognize that I’m losing the “cool” factor the older I get. Beth says I lost it a long time ago.
The word “awesome” got a lot of air time when I was young and it still does today. It can refer to the weather, a meal, a car, a song, a concert, or most often a football team from God’s Country. If we think about this word, it should be used to describe only God because He is the only one I should stand in awe of.
One way “awe” can be translated is fear. To be filled with awe means to be overwhelmed with a reverential fear before the presence of the Almighty. The word conveys a sense of holy terror. It’s what should happen when we come into the very presence of the Thrice-Holy God.
Listen to how Chuck Colson describes the contrast between first century believers and believers today. This is from his book, The Body (pages 381-383): “…We need to know what our predecessors in less sophisticated times knew. We need to know the fear of the Lord -- the overwhelming, compelling awe and reverence of a holy God. We can feel that awe pulsating through the book of Acts...so filled were they with this awe that they could face a hostile world with holy abandon. Nothing else mattered, not even their lives.”