Worship Boxscore

November 25, 2007
Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Christ the King Sunday


Welcome
Call to Worship
– Psalm 47 and That’s My King (video)
Songs of Worship – Crown Him With Many Crowns (Bridges/Elvey); You Are Crowned with Many Crowns (Sellers)
Invocation
Song of Worship –
Jesus Is Lord of All (Gaither), He Is Lord (Unknown)
Worship through Prayer
Worship through Giving
Ministry through Music
Worship Through the Word
– A Royal Waste of Time
Song of Commitment – Jesus Shall Reign(Watts/
*Benediction

A "Royal" Waste of Time

To start this morning’s message, I want to quote from an “old” hymn. Most of you have heard these words before and yet not recognize that they were from one of the oldest hymns to Christ that we have on record. In fact, several times during the apostle Paul’s writings, he refers to hymns of the ancient church. Another one of these passages is found in Philippians 2 from which I read a segment last week. The hymn fragments we are going to read this morning comes from Colossians 1:

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
which is his body. He is the beginning,
supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

This morning we want to examine who we worship. From the very beginning of this service we have been asking the question, “Who is this King?” “Do you know Him?” Paul makes it very clear in his language – we have heard it from the old hymns of the church and the new hymns of the church. We heard it pronounced through the gospel songs and through the newer expressions of contemporary worship that we often call choruses. When we conclude our service today, we will sing another old hymn called, “Jesus Shall Reign.” It’s new to you, but it is another great hymn of the church and on the reign of Christ and it was penned by Isaac Watts who is also known for When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, I Sing the Mighty Power of God, and O God Our Help in Ages Past.

I’ve named this sermon, “A Royal Waste of Time.” I want to ask some questions and I want you to consider this morning, “Why do we gather here?” What is the purpose of our gathering here? Is is to see one another? Is it for encouragement? Is it to put a lift in our spirit? Is it for us? Who is worship for anyway?

Let me say up front, yes, I know that I’m meddling. You’ve heard me say before that music is only one aspect of worship. There is prayer, and reading God’s Word – there is the worship aspect of us giving our offerings and there is the proclaiming of God’s Word. I told you last week of a wonderful time of worship we had while at FLAME – a time of worship that was powerful and yet not a note was played on any instrument – not a note was sung by any voice. This is probably some of the worship that is described in heaven as they shouted or they said. One of the important aspects of that time of worship was that we waited. We are told in Revelation that at times even in heaven we will wait. Have you ever waited in worship in holy expectation of what God was going to do? It is an amazing place to be. One of the places where God has done that in this congregation since we have been here is on Sunday nights. I always love when God “shows up.” Now the reality is that God is always here – He is here on Sunday morning – He is here on Sunday evening – He is here on Wednesday nights – He is here whenever there are believers present. I’ve felt that presence while worshiping, or praying or even preparing a sermon. I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite places is God’s house – his sanctuary. Like I said, the reality is that God is always here, but there are special times, when his presence is felt even more and it’s more than an emotional response. Sometimes I think we are afraid of emotion. We have reacted strongly against abuses of the past, but there are times that God is here (at least as we feel it) more than others. Keith Drury calls it a move of God. Some of you have been here to experience those moves of God and they are wonderful times. I say all that because I feel that sometimes we are in too much of a hurry to worship. Why does this happen? Sometimes we forget who it is that we are worshiping. We not coming here simply to sing a few nice songs, pray a little prayer, and hear three points and a poem. No there is so much more to worship and really – it’s not about us! It is all about Jesus – It is all about this wonderful King we worship. When we realize who it is we worship, it become much easier to spend time with Him. Last week I mentioned that when we realize what God has brought us from – that He has brought us from being wretched sinners to marvelous life in Christ — As Paul writes; 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. – we should be thankful – and that should want to make us praise Him and worship Him.

Let’s go back to our scripture this morning: Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. Think about that for a moment. We will look at this more in the coming season of Advent. Christ – who was and is and always will be – God – came to earth as a baby – he was incarnate – he came in the flesh – to dwell among his own creation – because he was here in the flesh – we have a better idea of what God is like. This passage makes it very clear that God and Jesus were together in the creation of the world. Jesus is the supreme over all creation – that means in other words – He is the ultimate ruler – He is King – He is the King of all Kings – He is the Lord of All Lords – and when we realize that – we must worship Him – just like subjects to a king bow before a king – we must (for we have no other choice) bow before King Jesus. To paraphrase the old Fram oil filter commercial – You can pay him now – or you can pay him later. The Philippians passage that I referred to last week ends this way: “Because of this (Christ’s humility and ultimate death on the cross) God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

I don’t know about you, but when I look at these passages so far, I see that worship is more than an hour on Sunday – It is something that we should want to do all the time. It’s interesting to see what people (including many Christians) will put in front of being in the Lord’s House on Sunday. Sometimes I really wish we could get rid of the order of worship in the bulletin, because it becomes a checklist of what we need to finish. May I suggest that worship isn’t a checklist that we need to finish – in reality we should never finish worshiping our God and our Savior, Jesus Christ and that attitude doesn’t exist in the scriptures. Remember that this God – that this Jesus made everything that is visible and even the things that are invisible. This is the God we worship.

God even placed Jesus Christ at the head of the church. I know some pastors who think they are the head of the church. I know laypeople who think they are the head of the church. Both of them are dead wrong – The head of the church is Christ. We are his body – can you imagine if the rest of the body didn’t want to go along with the head in the physical sense – the same thing happens in the church – when the church separates itself from the head – the head is Christ – not the congregation – not the ministry leadership team – not the pastor – not the district superintendent – not the District Board of Administration – not the General Superintendents – not the General Board of Administration and not even the General Conference – Christ is the head and all of this structure simply follows Christ. And I say all that as a Wesleyan pastor and someone who loves the Wesleyan Church and what it stands for – I am proud to be a Wesleyan pastor and I wouldn’t want to be a pastor in any other denomination and I wouldn’t want to pastor a non-denominational church either – It is my desire as your pastor to follow Christ – to be in submission to Christ – That is my desire as your pastor for you, the congregation – to be in submission to Christ – as it says in Ephesians, then we should even be in submission to each other – the pastor to the congregation – the pastor to the board – the board to the congregation – the board to the pastor – the congregation to the pastor and the congregation to the board – not only do I submit to the local congregation, but I submit to the denomination I call home. Now isn’t that a refreshing change of pace.

When you think about it – it really does come down to the attitude that Jesus had of humility and submission – that is how he became great – it wasn’t himself – he didn’t exalt himself – he was exalted by God the Father. Why does Christ deserve to be worshiped?

Christ is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. 19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ,20 and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

When we look at all of this, we see that worship is not a waste of time as some would like to think, but worship is a natural response to what God has done for us and who He is and He is coming to reign the whole earth – not just a part. All Hail King Jesus! As we conclude this morning – I want to teach you this wonderful Isaac Watts hymn – Jesus Shall Reign – I want you to listen to the words – If you know the melody, the words will be on the screen and you can sing along – but most important – I want you to concentrate on the words and what they mean about this wonderful King of kings, about this wonderful Lord of lords, about this wonderful God of gods that we serve.

Thanksgiving

Psalm 100
A Thanksgiving Psalm

1-2 On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into his presence.
3 Know this: God is God, and God, God.
He made us; we didn’t make him.
We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.
4 Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.
5 For God is sheer beauty,
all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever.

On this late Saturday night, I am thankful to God for all He means to me — for all He has done and for who He is. It has been great to spend the last 72 hours with our daughter, but first thing in the morning, we take her back to Roanoke so she can catch a ride back to Southern Wesleyan University. We heard many stories of college life…she has grown up while she was gone. But in three weeks she will be home for Christmas break and we can spend more time together. I love the “password” in the above translation. Our praise should always include “thank you.” Blessings….

Weekly Lectionary Readings

Christ the King Sunday

November 25, 2007

This Sunday is the final Sunday of the liturgical church year. It also completes Year C. The Revised Common Lectionary provides for a three year cycle of readings; a set of readings for each week, with a reading from the Old Testament, the Psalms, Gospel, and an Epistle. Next week we will begin Year A with the commencement of Advent. This also marks one year of this regular feature on my blog.

This week’s readings focus on the coming reign of Christ. For the first time since Pentecost, my preaching will follow this week’s reading.

Matthew’s gospel recounts the crucifixion narrative and that Jesus’ crime was being the King of the Jews. In another gospel, the Pharisees complain to Pilate that Jesus was not the King of the Jews, but that He claimed to be King of the Jews and Pilate replies “I have written what I have written.”
The psalm is substituted this week with another song; the song of Zachariah, John the Baptist’s father. It is a great foreshadowing of next week, as we begin to look toward Christmas during our Advent Celebration.
Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse may have been the basis for The Apostle’s Creed and The Nicene Creed. As I conclude tonight, I’d like to repeat Paul’s words here:
15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him. 17 He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together. 18 Christ is also the head of the church,
which is his body. He is the beginning,
supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything. 19 For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ, 20 and through him God reconciled
everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Lectionary Reading

Thanksgiving Day

November 22, 2007
While Thanksgiving Day really isn’t a “church year” holiday — the Revised Common Lectionary provides for readings today. I used the Psalm’s and Philippians’ passage for my sermon this past Sunday. In Deuteronomy, we are reminded to give thanks for the wonderful things the God has done. These are instructions that were given to the Israelites after leaving Egypt and after wondering in the wilderness for 40 years.
It is a good thing to give praise to the Lord…It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord, because God’s love endures forever!

Worship Wednesday

Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow. Take time to thank God for everything. I first heard this song at College Wesleyan in Marion, IN. It was then featured on Worship Leader Magazine’s Song Discovery. In the good times and the bad, blessed be the name of Jesus.

Technology and the Small Church

This morning I got done putting the finishing touches on a video that I’m planning on showing this coming Sunday for Christ the King Sunday. This Sunday is the culmination of the church year and celebrates Christ’s reign as King of kings and Lord of Lords.

I used an audio clip from SM Lockridge. Pastor Lockridge gives a wonderful greeting to a congregation. I took the audio clip along with images and words and made it into a 5 minute video that I will be using for a call to worship. The amazing thing is that it was all done within the digital realm, on the church’s laptop. A couple of weeks ago, I did something similar at FLAME, but it was much smaller in scope. This was quite a project and when I was done, I also made it into a DVD, again with nothing ever leaving the laptop.

Some may say why use all this technology and video? In reality using video for worship is nothing different than churches did in the Middle Ages. Why did they use all that stained glass? Why did they have icons and statues? These things were teaching tools to help them remember the stories of Jesus. The Middle Age congregation was not able to read, and not only that the service was all in Latin. The pictures were teaching tools, not unlike the teaching tools that were used several decades ago like the flannel graph and film strips and audio recordings and even the posters that are part of the modern Sunday School ciricullum.

My desire is that through God’s word, audio and video, singing, praying and preaching, we make clear the gospel of Christ and that we build the Kingdom of God and his son, Jesus. I want to see us make disciples and to take as many to heaven as we can.

A Warm Pre-Thanksgiving Day

Today on the Southside of Virginia it is warm…It’s sort of hard to get into the Thansgiving mood when there are still leaves on the trees, even though more fall each day. James enjoyed raking them all day Saturday and I think he’s planning on raking more this Friday, while I am at work doing the “black Friday” thing.

It’s nearing 70 degrees this afternoon. We would have summer days colder than that in New York…This afternoon we pick up our beautiful daughter Rebecca and head for “home” to be with family for a few days. Yes, thanksgiving is upon us and it is important to remember to be thankful for what God has given us. When I asked what we should be thankful for last week during Mosaic, one of our students said, “we need to be thankful for what we have and not for what we don’t”. Amen!

After we get home, probably next week, I need to start decorating for Christmas. I hope the weather holds out so I can decorate without a coat on 🙂 Have a great rest of the day. Carp Diem!