Know & Enjoy

Worship Paints A Picture

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Saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is trotting out one of the oldest cliches.  The thing is, cliches exist because they have their foundation in reality.  Go to the St Louis Art Museum and look at the energy and desperation in a Max Beckmann painting or the tranquility that Claude Monet invokes with his water lilies. Stand in front of a great work of art, and you see pages and pages of description and emotion, hope, despair, love, victory and tragedy in just a few square feet of canvas.

Worship is a series of pictures. We come together and let God paint a picture of who He is and what His love for us looks like. When we sing, the songs and hymns are pictures or scenes that I can scan: I can to go to dark Gethsemane or survey the wondrous cross. I can see from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down. I can look at my life in God’s context: when I’m found in the desert place, though I walk through the wilderness, blessed be His name. 

When I receive communion I get a participatory view of God’s table in His house, and see the family of God gathered around it. Even the act of the offering basket passing around is a way to visually capture the generosity that God’s Spirit inspires in us. Combines with confession, forgiveness, baptism, the Scriptures and sermon: these are all brushstrokes that bring to life a painting of God’s passion for His people in the course of an hour on Sundays.  

And each time we come together, the same elements come together, but in a fresh way with different colors that highlight different nuances of my condition and God’s truth. Stand back: take it all in, reflect  on it, enjoy it!

Posted by Brian King with

Don’t Skip The Cross On The Way To Easter

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A member of one of our former congregations, I’ll call him “Fred,” was a responsible farmer and faithful Christian. Fred was a devout worshipper. He never missed a Sunday service, even during the wheat harvest, when most other farmers skipped church to tend to the time-sensitive work of harvesting their crops. There was, however, one worship service each year that Fred refused to attend—Good Friday.

Fred could not understand how Christians, who put their hope in Jesus’ victory over death and the grave by rising on Easter, would want to focus on the horrors of His suffering and death. He argued that since we are forgiven, and because Jesus took our sins away, why would we want to revisit that place of darkness year after year?

Sadly, Fred missed out on a lot by skipping Good Friday and jumping straight to Easter.  1 Corinthians 1:18, says that to those who are being saved, the cross is the power of God! The apostle Paul also said, in Galatians 6:14, that the only thing worth boasting about is the cross of Jesus, through which “the world was crucified to me and I to the world.” Certainly, it’s at the cross where we can truly come to grips with the depravity of our sinful lives. It’s at the cross that we get a picture of the punishment our sins deserve when we hear Jesus cry out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) Gut wrenching? Yes! Gruesome? Yes! Convicting? Yes! Yet, It’s at the cross where the sacrificial and unconditional love of God is most graphically demonstrated.

At the cross, we hear Jesus say, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) With His final breath, Jesus sealed the deal that paid for our redemption. By His wounds, we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5) As His body is buried, we are reminded that our old, sinful nature is buried with him and, like Jesus, we are raised to a new life. It’s at the cross where we see the temple curtain torn in two, the dramatic sign that the separation between God and man had been restored. Therefore, our worship on Good Friday is so much more than focusing on our failures or on the unjust suffering of Jesus. It is a day of thanksgiving—deep, heart-felt thanksgiving for the incredible act of Jesus that rescued us from eternal death and separation from God. It is a day to bow down in reverence and awe before Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who, for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame; (Hebrews 12:2) scorning our shame. Why would we want to miss that? That is how we get to Easter.

Our journey to Easter by way of the cross is the only way to experience this holy day in all its glory and eternal-life-changing meaning for our lives. Having been to the cross, we can raise our alleluias all the louder because Jesus, whom we witnessed suffering, bleeding and dying on a cross, for our sake and in our place, has conquered death and won for us eternal life. “Death has been swallowed up in victory…thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (1 Corinthians 15, 54, 56)

Don’t skip the cross on the way to Easter this year. Let us worship there together and experience the full measure of the blessing of Christ Jesus.

Posted by Sandi Geis with

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