Summary: Sabbath worship is one of those times when our hearts are bound in unity. A unity that revolves around lovingly adoring God Almighty!
Scripture Text: Psalm 95.1-8a
Several years ago, my wife and I spent a weekend in Manhattan, New York Since we were there over a Sunday, we wanted to find a church to attend. If you’ve ever been to lower-Manhattan, …you probably-know that there are plenty of sky-skrapers; …there are lots-of office-buildings; …plenty of pavement and taxis and rats runnin’-around-in-the-streets; …but there aren’t many churches!
As-a-matter-of-fact, we only found one: St. Paul’s Church. St. Paul’s is a beautiful, …dignified building. It is surrounded by a graveyard ~ …with some gravestones that are approaching 300 years old!
We went to the early service; …and there were just a handful-of-people there, that-morning; …I suppose the small-crowd was due-to the early-hour!
Now, we didn’t go to worship and start-snappin’ photos during the prayer-time ~ …I down-loaded these pictures from the internet! But, in these pictures, there are colorful-banners hanging from the tall-columns on either-side of the sanctuary. I have a feelin’ that these pictures were taken sometime during-the-week, …and the people are tourists. But, on the Sunday that we there were… Maybe a couple-dozen-folks gathered with us for worship.
Again, you can see the banners and the tall-stately-columns. If I remember correctly, it is the oldest, continually-used building in all-of-Manhattan! As a matter of fact, …this is the church that our first President worshiped in! And over-on-the-left-side of the sanctuary, is a chair, separated from the rest of the pews by a railing. This was President George Washington’s personal seat! I remember standing there, after worship, …looking at the presidential seal hangin’ on the wall, …imagining him sitting-there on a Sunday-morning, …and marveling at the history of this church.
Well… that trip was more than 10 years ago… But, the Lord brought that experience back-to-my-mind. And, along with that memory, …came a question; The question was: Is St. Paul’s church a museum ~ Is it a relic of a storied-past… filled with good-memories… and great accomplishments; …or …is it a vibrant community of faith, …where Christians meet to worship the King of the universe, …and where sinners hear about the hope of the gospel?
I thoroughly enjoy museums. I appreciate history. I have no problem with reminiscing and remembering and honoring days-gone-by. But, when it comes to the Church, …I think that there is more to who-we-are …and why-we-are than the past! Otherwise, …we’d just be a library, …a museum, …an archive of old information and past-experiences!
That may seem a little-ironic ~ …since last-week our whole emphasis was on remembering.ˆ
Remembering a sanctified-history; …remembering the glory of what-God’s-done for us.
But, we don’t just remember ~ …we worship. Sabbath is a day to worship; …and worship is an action. It’s something we do. …Yes, …it springs from the heart; …It is motivated by our memories of what God has-done for us; …but all-this comes-to-a-head in the tangible, …visible, …audible-actions that express our worship! Worship is not something that is held within; …but it must be expressed!
“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
“…let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
“Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song…
“Come, let us bow down in worship,
“…let us kneel before the Lord our Maker” (Ps 95.1,2,6)
First-of-all notice that the worship were invited to engage in, is corporate… It is something that God’s people do together The psalm says, “Let us…”
You’ve seen, …heard it, …and felt-it: We live in a very individualistic society. The emphasis is on “me”. ~ “Indulge yourself, …fulfill yourself, “Pamper yourself, …’do it your way’, “’Have it your way’.” And this “me-oriented” culture has penetrated the hearts and minds of God’s people.
We have a bewildering number of opportunities to worship on our own time, ..in our own way, …according to our own preferences. Cable t.v., ....the rise of Christian-radio, …not-to-mention the internet and all the Christian resources found-there: …we are tempted to-think that we can do all-right on-our-own. We are led-to-believe that the invitation to worship is a “Let me…”
Now, don’t mis-understand: Personal worship and personal-relationship with God is vital to having a faith that’s alive and well. But, personal worship was never intended to replace corporate worship! God wants His children to come-together, …join-together, …gather-together to worship: …to sing and to shout, …to thank Him and to lift-up His name, …to humbly bow-down, …and to kneel before our Lord. God invites us all; …the invitation is to join-together in worship. Worship is not simply a private matter; …but it’s a social-activity.
We are social-creatures. Why do you think relationships are important to you? Why do you think we seek out connections with others? Why is it so painful when we lose someone, …or when we move away from our family and friends, …or when our gang implodes with drama? It’s because we’re social-to-the-core. And God wants that aspect of our lives to be sanctified. As we become a part of a church-family, …God is able to work in the social- aspect of our lives, …and the work of sanctification moves ever-closer to completion in us!