Chris Aho's Podcast

Does Worship Matter?

August 19, 2018
Chris Aho's Podcast
Does Worship Matter?
Chapters
Chris Aho's Podcast
Does Worship Matter?
Aug 19, 2018
Rev. Christopher R. Aho
Does worship matter? Why not just flip on a podcast while at the lake...just like Jesus did, right? Maybe not.
Show Notes Transcript
The first in a series of four Back to School, Back to Basics sermons. Today I addressed the basics of worshipping as the church for the sake of the Christian life.

Speaker 1:
0:02
I already mentioned to the children that we are going to have a series of four sermons entitled back to the basics this morning is about worship. Next week will be about discipleship and then we'll talk about fellowship and service and the roots of all four of these practices are in a very familiar passage about the early church. I'm going to read it this morning. It will be in the background of every other sermon that we preach and really it's in the background of what we do as a church, but this morning to start this series and sermon off, we turn to the book of Acts Chapter Two, verses 42 through 47 and what the early church did as they were the church.
Speaker 1:
0:57
Luke writes, they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship to the breaking of bread and the prayers all came upon everyone because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had all things in common. They would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all as any had need day by day as they spent much time together in the temple and they broke bread at home and their food and they ate their food with glad and generous hearts. They were praising God, having the goodwill of all people and day by day the Lord added to their number, those who were being saved. This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Speaker 1:
1:51
Back in June, I took a week of vacation and went to school, which I wouldn't recommend as a way to spend vacation, but it was a great week and I was at Stanford University at the design school and one of the coaches teachers there that led my small group in our project had been working on a book. It's this little book. It's not yet out. This is a draft copy called a designer's guide to navigating ambiguity. I don't know if it's because I read it on the plane or because I read it at 5:30 in the morning, west coast time that a lot of it went over my head, but the first time I went through it, this one page really stuck out to me. I can show it to you sometime, but it looks like this and it's titled Trust and in Parentheses, the process yourself and diving partners, they write this illustration in deep sea exploration. Divers layout a matrix on the seabed to organize their exploration. If they come across a treasure chest in the very first square of the grid they pinpoint is and then keep going swimming out further to explore. They could stop with the first thing they found, but they don't.
Speaker 1:
3:28
What if there was a whole sunken ship, just 20 squares away. They might not find anything else, but they trust the process and they trust the treasure chest. They found in that first square will be there when they return. I love this story. It has been in my head for two months now working on it, thinking about it. I didn't know it would come up in a worship sermon, but this illustration pushes us because we often stopped with a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush and it reminds us that just because you keep looking in the bush doesn't mean you need to let go of that bird that's in your hand. Sometimes we need both. We need to keep exploring. We need the bird in the hand and to keep exploring and the good news is we don't have to stop exploring. The things we find are often still found. We just have to know where to go back to get them and I think that that in in a really important way because a significant illustration about what worship can be like for countless reasons. You and I returned to this place for the practice of worship. Yes, we returned because we're God's people. Yes, we return because scripture tells us that we're supposed to get together and praise God. Practice tells us this is what we do
Speaker 1:
5:11
are gathering and our worship in this place as both a reflection of what God has passed down to us through tradition and given us in scripture, and it is the way the living body of Christ embodies these things, but beyond the practice that we do because we're supposed to do worship in the sanctuary represents a practice akin to those divers who keep exploring. We found the presence of God. Here we've met the Lord here it each week we go out and we explore. We live live. We gauge with our families and our friends, our communities in our careers, and then in this place like that first square, we come to this service and engage in this practice of gathering with one another weekly as a way to return to the treasurer. We have found the practice of worship in this place is a practice of returning to the treasurer's in our spiritual matrix. We know it's here. We market and we returned to meet the Lord. Now embodied in that word worship and the particularity of worshiping. Here are two things, a particular space, this sanctuary and a particular practice. The words we sing, the sermons, we try to preach the songs. We
Speaker 1:
6:56
we offered them one another and so while what we are doing is very significant and what we're doing is often spoken of as our worship. It's very important that we do it in this place as well. Place Matters. Space Matters. You don't have to be a designer to know that. Maybe you just have to be a sports fan. I love watching Duke basketball, thanks to television providers and ESPN APP. I can watch just about any duke basketball game I want to, but let me assure you, if given the chance to watch a ballgame on a TV or to go through the hassle of getting to a game at Camborne, Cameron Indoor Stadium, I'm going through the hassle just like you're going to the state football game. You're headed to the Dean Dome, you're burning up. I'm going to watch wake play or headed down east to tailgate on a Saturday at East Carolina. Everywhere in between. Maybe you're not a sports fan, but you have deepak tickets because it's great to watch the play on TV, but oh, it's something else. To be in that special space. What we witness is important, but where we witnesses it is just as important. There's something different about watching something and going to it, and the same is true for the worship of the church because there's great significance to this room and any sanctuary really most sanctuaries.
Speaker 1:
8:47
Well, when you come into this space, you know if you're over the age of eight, that you're not supposed to be rowdy students section. When you walk in these doors, this place is not adorned with advertisements asking for your money or encouraging you to buy a chicken sandwich. When you walk in here, your eyes look up. They're directed to the cross is a symbol of God's love. They look at the beautiful windows that concisely tell the story of Jesus' presence and and resurrection and hope it look up to the vaulted ceiling, which was practical when you didn't have microphones or air conditioning, but when you're trying to build the sanctuary during the great depression, a taller ceiling is, well, it's expensive, but worth it because those who build sanctuaries know that the place, the structure of the place causes us to lift our eyes up and in doing so, we look up in an attempt to see the Lord. This particular place is physically designed to point us in a different direction than the rest of our lives. Point us, and when we look at the practice of this place, we engaged in continual attempts to help us to see the holy God
Speaker 1:
10:32
who is here with us, but is also something far beyond us. Now, when I think of scripture passages that are beyond you and me, the first one that comes to mind is from Isaiah chapter six. It's a picture of the holy, and if it's. If it's not exactly how you want to see holy, at least embrace that. It's a picture of something that's different from you and me. What is amazing as we read in the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne and the temple
Speaker 2:
11:16
high and lofty
Speaker 1:
11:18
and the hem of his robe filled the whole temple and the sheriffs were in attendance above him. In each had six wings with two covered their faces and to covered their feet. And with two they flew and one call to another incidence. Holy, Holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is still full of his glory. The pivots on the threshold shook and the voices of those who called in the house filled with smoke and it said,
Speaker 2:
11:49
and I
Speaker 1:
11:51
whoa is me, am lost. I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of Unclean Lips. My eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts. Then one of the blue to me holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs and the Sarah touched my mouth with it and said, now that this has touched your lips, your guilt is departed. Your sin is blotted out, and then I heard a voice of the Lord saying, whom shall I send and who will go for us? And I said, here am I send me.
Speaker 1:
12:33
This is the vision of God. It's a high and lofty vision and maybe you're not into the vision of syrups with six wings, but again, allow the vision of God in the temple to remind you that God's presence is inspiring and when we gather, we look up to it. We gather to meet the God whose presence is so overwhelming that we cannot help but step forward and say, here am I send me. Now the way we do that is through our practice, or at least we try. Look, Cindy and I would love to bring that to you every week and I promise you we do our best to try to help you experience it, but no, we're sure planner, without God's help or or no one without God can deliver this, but through songs, through prayer, through quiet, the Lord still moves. Oh, and it may not be as grand as Isaiah six, but, but the lord moves with a still small voice sometimes and sometimes Jesus heals and secret, but that healing takes on eternal significance and sometimes the call of God is not publicly declarative.
Speaker 1:
13:59
Here am I send me like it was for Isaiah, but, but what I believe and what I've experienced and I think you have experienced as well, is that when the people gather, like those gathered in hacks two, and when we put ourselves forward to worship and we engage in a spiritual place with spiritual practices that helped to foster something meaningful, the conditions are set that we might get in touch with the holy God in a way that is significant and powerful and unique. And that is why I have no doubt when I answered the question, yes, worship does matter because it has in the gathering of the people in a space designed to point this to the Lord with intent that we are able to offer our best and receive God's best and that that's something unique and powerful and significant happens here. Well, it happens in ways that it's hard to make happen in other kinds of places. Now, the thing about our modern life is
Speaker 2:
15:31
these things.
Speaker 1:
15:34
Most days when I get to work, I've listened to stories on my phone for an hour and a half to two hours these days. We have the luxury that we didn't have 10 100,000, several thousand years ago that we can turn on a TV channel, access a youtube page. You use email devotionals, ipads in podcasts on our devices to dial up a song, a scripture, a sermon at any moment and at and that is amazing. I saw a TV preacher I like this week and let me guarantee you, you've got to mark your calendar on that while.
Speaker 2:
16:18
Okay.
Speaker 1:
16:22
But ultimately those, those things are better classified as opportunities to enhance our Christian discipleship through our personal devotions because worship is about reliably paying attention to God as we are physically gathered and there is something to physically gathering because last night I stood right about there and Brian occurrence to right about here in the sanctuary of about 250. People were right there in Victoria and Jeffrey shared their vows and right over there was an ipad. I've had a lot of things happen on the front row of weddings before, but this was the first time there was an ipad with facetime on the front row of the wedding and Dylan was there, Victoria's brother who's in the service who couldn't physically be here, and it was exciting that you could share in this service. It was exciting that he could see what happened.
Speaker 2:
17:34
Okay.
Speaker 1:
17:34
But when you really think about it, unfortunately for Dylan, he was as president here is you and I worked for the royal wedding. We saw it. We were excited by it. We learned from it. But witnessing is not attending. Witnessing is very valuable. It is so important. It provides important exposure and insight to what God can do and who God can be in a touches us in different ways, but but Jesus doesn't phone a friend. He shows up as
Speaker 2:
18:12
a friend,
Speaker 1:
18:14
and this reminds us that no, no matter how far technology carries us throughout time to start the sabbath, the Jews gathered for worship. You remember from the gospels that as Jesus was, it was his custom to go to the synagogue. The early church all over the book of acts gathers and gathers and gathers physically to be the visible expression of the invisible body of Christ. If the route time, time that didn't have the luxury of technology connecting them across the world, the church gathered to be the physical representation and a visible manifestation of the love of God in the world. Personal piety matters, but that's next week to pray is important, but the practice of the whole body of believers is to gather in a particular place to lift our eyes up to the Lord together because God works differently here. Sometimes I think God works every where else, and this is one of those squares where we know we can go back to and find the treasure of God's
Speaker 2:
19:28
present.
Speaker 1:
19:33
So does worship really matter? Of course my answer is yes, but you knew that before you walked in like the preacher was going to tell you that worship didn't
Speaker 2:
19:42
matter,
Speaker 1:
19:45
but the theologians can spend many pages reminding us that the church has always been together. Believers that gave themselves in unique and significant ways to God through worship. What we know is that this is what we do here together. Our time here is aspirational. Sometimes it doesn't show up as significant as Isaiah six, but whether we hit that mark or not to gather in this space is to give ourselves a chance to experience the power and presence of God and didn't worship unlike any other spiritual practice or life practice. As we direct ourselves to the god of the Cross and the resurrection whose story of salvation is told and the books and in the hymnals and in the baptistry and from the pulpit in ways we expect we expected, we might meet the holy and I think we do that differently here than we do anywhere else, and so worship is a time and a space and a place and a gathering that is unlike any other. And without it, I don't believe the church is the church. I don't believe we get to experience the fullness of God and I do believe that without it, it's harder to live a Christian life.
Speaker 1:
21:15
So I say it every week, but sincerely. Thank you for gathering in worship because you are gathering house my Christian life.
Speaker 1:
21:26
Thank you for gathering in worship because I hope this gathering points you to the holy God in a significant way. Thank you for repeatedly gathering in worship and making this a square in your matrix of your spiritual life where you know that you could find the treasure of God, a treasure that truly matters. Will you pray with me? Eternal, loving and holy God, we are your people gathered here today. We're gathered to meet you, to listen to you, to experience you, and to hopefully draw strength and courage for you as we are called forward by you. So Lauren, you've met us, we've seen glimpses of you and so call us forward today and help us to respond as Isaiah did, to be sent in the ways that you call us so that by having come back to the square and this treasure, we might be strengthened to explore with your presence and your comfort and your love in the waters. Beyond this award is our prayer and we offer this prayer and all of our prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. And your son is resurrected today and his name we pray. Amen.
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