The motto of the boy Scouts is “Be Prepared” and I was thinking maybe we should adopt it as our motto as we restart our worship services in the church building in Nyon.
Here is what I mean:
BE PREPARED … Things are going to be different. We are recommending people wear masks and it will be compulsory for those who want to sing, though singing won’t be compulsory, if that makes sense. We won’t be able to lay hand on and pray for people as we did before. We won’t be able to linger over good conversations with good friends after the service. Be prepared for worship not to be the way it was before COVID.
I think it will take us a little bit of experimentation to find a format that allows the Holy Spirit to create a meaningful worship experience for us. That means we also need to be prepared to be patient as we learn and develop.
BE PREPARED … To take part! We have been asking people what has been positive about our lockdown experience of doing church. The number one thing that people have spoken about is what I would characterise as a sense of being a “contributor.” More people have contributed to worship by praying, by doing readings, by being involved in what the old Puritans used to call “holy conversations” discussing with other believers how spiritual truth applies to their lives as individuals and to the church. Strangely our online worship may have been more participatory than our physical worship services.
Paul talking about worship in 1 Cor 14 says “26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.” Rather than get bogged down in the details here, what is a “a revelation” etc lets look at the underlying principle Paul is talking about. He is saying that in worship the “edification” of God’s People needs the “participation” of God’s people. For God’s people to be encouraged, built up, challenged, God’s people need to be prepared to share in appropriate ways in worship.
Building on this truth we want to ask you not to simply come to a worship service and be passive but to “be prepared” to take part in worship. Be prepared to pray. Be prepared to share what God has been doing in your life. Be prepared to ask for prayer when you need it. Be prepared to share what is on your heart.
BE PREPARED …. Although our worship services will be different one thing will stay the same, real worship happens through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who makes God’s presence tangible. It would be all to easy to try and “manufacture” a worship experience but that would be superficial and ultimately futile. I am still thinking this through, but I am coming to believe that the extent to which we find worship “meaningful” individually and corporately is linked to how we have prepared for worship.
Richard Foster wrote that “Worship is our response to the overtures of love from the heart of the Father. It is kindled within us only when the Spirit of God touches our human spirit. Forms and rituals do not produce worship, nor does the disuse of forms and rituals. We can use all the right methods, we can have the best possible liturgy, but we have not worshiped the Lord until His Spirit touches our spirit.”
I believe that His Spirit is most likely to touch our spirit when we have prepared ourselves for worship. More than ever, if that is possible, we need to come to worship fully prepared. Here are some of the ways you can prepare for worship
Prepare your heart …. Read God’s Word, confess your sin, tell him that you desire nothing more than to glorify His name, hear His Word and encounter His presence. Tell him you are open to hearing from Him and committed to obeying Him.
BE PREPARED … To pray. I remember reading a very thought-provoking book by a British preacher from the first half of the 20th century, called George Campbell Morgan. In this book Campbell Morgan looks at all the “big events” in Jesus life, like baptism etc and points out that Luke often adds a detail that is missing from the other Gospels, that Jesus was praying as these things happened. So, it seems that even in Jesus life, significant things happened in response to prayer and as He prayed. As its was for Christ, so I believe it is for as Christ’s Body the church. Significant things happen when we pray.
Are you prepared to pray for us as a church as we head into this new phase? Will you pray that our worship glorifies and pleases God? Will you pray that God speaks to us? Will you pray that God’s presence is tangible among us? Will you pray that those for whom it wouldn’t be safe to join us and will continue to worship through a form of online church would feel “part” of us as a Church? Will you pray that God will do great things in and through us? Will you pray the saints will be built up in their faith and sinners called to repentance?