Sing to the Lord

We come together to worship God

Worship is the nourishment of the mind on God’s truth;

It is the quickening of the conscience by God’s holiness;

It is the enrichment of the imagination by God’s beauty;

And it is the enlargement of the heart through God’s love.

We come together to worship God—acknowledging all those who have gone before us in this place and this land, indigenous and settlers, all created in God’s image, all people of the earth and all invited into the divine presence.

So let us still our hearts, gather our lives and our community: and worship God.

 

Community

This week Eugene Peterson tweeted these words:

It’s so key to remember that following Jesus is a lifestyle “on the move.” We don’t stop to admire what we’ve accomplished.

This is our call to mission—a new community in the presence of the living God.

The Immanuel community, for Matthew and for us, is defined not by where we have been, but by where we are going.

It is defined not so much by our ancestors, may they rest in peace, as by our descendants.
It is defined not so much by what we are against, but by what we are for.
It is defined not so much by our past as by our future.

It is defined by God with us.

This is the vision of a Baptist kind of church: a people discerning together where we see God, and what we see God doing, and becoming part of that.

 

Struggle

If the Temple is gone, maybe there’s a God message and meaning in that. Where are we going to meet God now?

If there is no fruit on the tree, maybe there is a God message and meaning in that. To whom will we turn, now?

If we are confronted by confusion and ambiguity, in life and relationships, even people we have trusted and loved for a long time, maybe there is a God message and meaning in that.

Perhaps we are in fact still in the storm.

Perhaps we have not yet dealt with all we need to deal with, in the storm within.

Perhaps we need to learn, simply to trust.

 

Strangers

Saint Augustine

God speaks through strange events and strange people

August 28th is the ‘Feast Day’ of Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430).

The famous story of his conversion involves a strange experience in a garden in Milan. Torn between a calling to live a life of chastity and remembering his former life, he prayed for forgiveness and immediately heard the voice of a child singing from a neighbouring house, “Take up and read!” He picked up a book of St Paul’s epistles which had been left nearby, and the words he found there changed him forever. He moved to North Africa to pursue a monastic life, but was called to be ordained and later became bishop of Hippo, where he served for 35 years.

Augustine has been rightly criticized for some elements in his teaching, including passing on a harmful view of the human body. He was not perfect, yet his teaching and example have inspired millions of people over many centuries. He himself insisted that grace is the heart of our faith.

God uses strange events and strange people—even us—to invite us to new insights and new depths of community.

 

Storms

Backhuysen_Ludolf_-_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Sea_of_Galilee_-_16951

 As we gather today, to discuss various things, and as we think about the storms we sometimes encounter, these words of Leslie Brandt, based on our Psalm, are encouraging:

How wonderful is our God

and how we love to sing in praise of God.

Whereas we are often frightened,

when we think about the future

and confused and disturbed by the changing events about us,

still our hearts are secured and made glad when we remember how God has cared for us throughout the past.

God has kept us through the stormy past;

God will secure and guide us through the perils of the future.

We need never be overcome by fear,

no matter how uncertain the months and years ahead of us.

 

Leslie Brandt, Psalms Now (Adapted).