Summary: A sermon that uses a variety of passages to identify how God evaluates our Sunday worship.

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How many of you are currently part of a blended family or have ever been part of a blended family? Blended family meaning that there are kids living under the same household who basically were part of a previous marriage or a previous relationship. Debbie and I are part of a blended family. A blended family is just strictly nothing but a blessing, right? Piece of cake right? Seriously though. A blended family can be a real blessing, and it is really a blessing when the kids start moving out and you get your space back. Amen.

Really, as I begin to think about this idea of a blended family and I look around the church especially today, I realize that, in many ways, our church is a blended family. We have people from all sorts of religious traditions that are coming together under the same roof to honor God. That is a blessing because I think it is kind of a picture of what Jesus said or Jesus’ ideal in the Book of John. In His high priestly prayer he prayed to the father before he went up to heaven that they would be one. That his people would be one just as he and the Father are one. So it is a blessing to have many different people from many different backgrounds worshipping God together. But just like a regular traditional family when you merge all these people from different backgrounds, from different traditions together you have some challenges. Believe it or not, some people come into a church, especially our church which is a nondenominational church, and they have certain expectations as far as how things should be done. Do you believe that? They come in and some of them are good but some of them are not so good. Some of them can be a little bit of a nuisance. Really, a lot of these ideas that they have tend to center on this idea of the worship experience or the worship setting. For example, let’s say you are from one of the traditional religious denominations such as Presbyterian or Lutheran or Methodist. You may like a certain style of music. You may be used to things like hymns. Hymns are great and we try to do them sometimes but we don’t do a whole lot of hymns. Some of you may even ask where are the hymnals. You may notice if you look in the pews there are no hymnals. What did you do with the hymnals? I’ll tell you what we did with them. We use them to prop up different Christmas things around here. They are propping up the nativity in the back. Anyway, I suspect that some of you come from traditions believe you should have hymnals in the pews because that is in the Bible somewhere, right? Or you come in and you have this idea of how communion should work. Some of you have a real problem with the fact that we celebrate communion every single week. The people that are Presbyterian or are from different Protestant denominations don’t like that because that is kind of a Catholic thing. In their mind the Catholics do communion every week so we shouldn’t do communion every week because we are protesting against the Catholics, correct? On the other hand, the Catholics come in and they like communion every week. They enjoy that because they like the idea of some sort of a regular structure. They seem to be more into structure. They seem to be more into pomp and they expect you to dress a certain way. They wonder why I don’t have a formal collar on or the choir is not wearing robes. They think about that stuff. Or why aren’t we following a set pattern of creeds and confessions and that sort of thing. They expect structure. When the structure is not there, they get a little nervous. Especially if we step outside of that structure and we do something like spontaneous prayer or something like that. That is a little bit uncomfortable for some people. Some of the Catholics and some of the Episcopals might not like the idea that we even use any form of video or even the fact that we use drums. They are just not used to it. It is outside their comfort zone.

In the other extreme, you have people from what we would call the charismatic or the Pentecostal background and they like the idea that we are a little bit contemporary. They see us as being a little bit boring. They really think that we should be more expressive in our worship. They like the idea that we pray, but they think we should be more spontaneous in our prayer. I tell you all these things simply because I want you to know that when we are looking at the worship experience, what we are doing is we are evaluating that experience through our own lens of tradition. Do you understand that? Everybody comes in with a preset idea of what church should be. Some of those ideas are very Biblical. Some are just simply what you are used to. I say that especially as we consider this value of worship. What I want to do in the remaining minutes is simply evaluate how God views worship. You may see by the end of the sermon there is a disconnect between how man views worship and how God views worship. I am going to mention five things.

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