Summary: Worship is less a private choice and consideration than it is a communal invitation from God to join together in adoration and service.
Sermon for CATM – April 6, 2008 – “Worship – An Act of Community”
There’s a fellow who about ten years ago was a regular attender at CATM. Since then he’s had tremendous legal and then medical problems, and he’s been out here on Sundays only very rarely; I’ve been quite involved personally over the years in his legal struggles.
Recently we caught wind that he wasn’t doing so well. So I called Ruth, who does lay-pastoral work, and she and Kirk were all set up to go visit him and provide some practical assistance.
As it turned out this fellow had to go to the hospital and so he couldn’t receive Ruth and Kirk, but he said something interesting to me when he learned that Ruth and Kirk were planning to see him.
He said: “You know what? You don’t have a church; you don’t have parishioners – not in the usual sense. You have a family that takes care of each other; that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?”
Scripture Readings: All Stand
"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved". Acts 2:42-47
"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need". Acts 4:32-35
How do those passages make you feel? Do they warm you because they speak of the unity of the early followers of Christ? One in heart and mind, breaking bread together, praising God and enjoying the favour of everyone?
Do they intimidate you because it sounds far too communal? Selling everything? Having everything in common? No possessions of my own?
Does it mystify you because you think of the church as a whole and you think of our church here as nothing like what described in this passage?
Does it encourage you because you perhaps see the same spirit at work in the church today, or at least you’ve talked to enough people to get a sense that there are many who value Christian community and deeply appreciate its potential, even if we fall far short of the mark?
Today we’re going to look at worship as an act of community. An act of community. Now that might strike you as a bit of an odd thing. Isn’t WORSHIP something that you and I do on our own?
Isn’t it your decision to come to church? Your decision to enter into worship or to keep your distance from God? Your decision to offer yourself to God as an individual choice? What does your worship have to do with the community around you?
We kind of think this way…don’t we? We think of ourselves as individuals, as separate persons. That kind of thinking is very normal in the western world. We are not often challenged when we talk this way.
When everybody thinks the same way, it’s pretty easy just to go along for the ride. And some Christians are content to allow “the way things are done” to be defined by the culture around them. Some Christians work very hard to keep up with the culture around them.
But if we take the Bible as more important than the surrounding culture; if we believe that the Word of God has more authority in our lives than the prevailing culture, we need to be open to what it says.
What does God call us to? Are these descriptions of the church that we’ve heard just pie-in-the-sky? Or is there more perhaps than meets the eye to this thing we do in this place, on Sundays and throughout the week for many of us?
There’s a story told by Randy Frazee in his book called "The Connecting Church." He has a son who was born without a left hand. One day in Sunday School the teacher was talking with the children about the church.