Posts Tagged ‘worship’

roadkillThose who have driven on roads in the north west of Western Australia are familiar with Wedge-tailed Eagles sitting on the roadside eating roadkill. It’s not a pretty picture for a bird that looks so regal when it is high up in the sky, it’s great wings spread out majestically.

This morning I shared at church the verse in Isaiah 40 that reads: Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

I can relate to the idea of God lifting me above the troubles of the world and delighting in Him through prayer, meditation and worship, but I can also relate to sitting on the ground eating roadkill. It seems that while I want to soar like an eagle, I spend more time grovelling in my own worries and fears.

EagleswingsSo how do we get to soar like eagles? Well, eagles don’t just sit back hoping. They actively chase the thermals – updrafts of warm air – and as they follow the various air currents they are able to fly long distances using little energy.

Isaiah says that those who hope in the Lord (or, wait with anticipation) will renew their strength and soar on wings like eagles. It takes an act of the will to actively seek God and to delight in him through prayer, worship and meditation. When we’re not doing that, we just may be on the side of the road, eating roadkill and dodging passing cars.

I know where I’d prefer to be.

(You can hear this morning’s message online. Click here)

Image“Monday now the weekend” is the headline in The West Online today. The advent of Sunday trading in Western Australia and the possible extension of Sunday trading hours in the not-too-distant future means that for many Saturday and Sunday are the busiest days of the weekend and the relaxation time is Monday and Tuesday.

The article says: “Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that the number of Australians working on weekends has been on the rise, with almost one-third of working people doing some form of weekend work.

Of course, this is not really a new situation. In my research into early Baptists in Western Australia I recall the efforts of great Baptist preachers like William Kennedy and FJ Miles in the Goldfields over a hundred years ago carrying out a very public campaign against Sunday sport.

The Biblical commandment to remember the Sabbath Day has a very practical basis. I have no doubt that many of the health problems, and particularly mental health problems, that we experience today are compounded because we have not been taking the time that we need to rest, and in that time of rest, to reflect on our Creator and his goodness.

But let’s put that to one side for a moment, and consider how the church, which traditionally carries out the majority of its public activities on a weekend, should think about the changes that are occurring in our society. How do we address the issues of corporate worship in a society where traditional time patterns are now impacted by a fly-in fly-out lifestyle?

I don’t think those societal changes necessarily  require us to stop meeting on Sunday and instead to call the faithful to worship on Monday, but perhaps there is a time and a place for considering some alternative and additional opportunities for people to seek solace from the rush and bustle of life in order to meditate on their Creator.

We’ve been studying Hebrews on Sunday morning and next week we are coming to a verse that says: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.”

If the world in which we lives makes the meeting together of Jesus’ followers too hard, perhaps we need to think of ways that we can make it possible. Any ideas of how we can encourage each other in this?


We had a quiz at Friendship Hour today that included a guessing game that got me thinking about a theory that someone really ought to take up as a Masters’ thesis. Mind you, they’ve probably already done that, and I just haven’t caught up yet.

By the way, Friendship Hour is the fortnightly programme for over 55’s at Maida Vale Baptist Church.

The idea of the game was that we were sitting in groups and each group was shown a tray that had 10 small items. The tray was then taken away and as a group we had to write down the 10 items as we could remember them.

I found it rather interesting that five of us at the table where I was sitting were able to remember most of the items until we got to the 10th item and we all struggled to remember the final item. 

My theory is that a group of people can have a joint blockage of memory. We had all seen the same items, but five people were struggling to remember each of the 10 items. While you would expect five people to have five times the memory, what was actually happening is that there was a combined memory blockage.

At a broader level, I have observed that organisations can develop corporate memory blockage, because together we become controlled by “group think”.

That’s why some organisations get stuck in an experience of doing the same things year after year and are unable to explore new ways of doing things. Rather than people being given the freedom to extend their thinking and challenge others, we tend to be restrained by the group thinking, usually quite unintentionally. And to make things worse, our corporate memory seems to recollect the failures, the problems and the difficulties of past situations, while the achievements and wins become lost in the mists of time.

I’ve been reading lately about the early Hebrew people who travelled together from Egypt to what was described as “The Promised Land”. They had experienced God’s goodness and grace in many different ways, but they participated in what has been described as “The Great Grumbling”. Rather than remembering the good times, including God’s grace, they could only remember the difficult parts of the journey and began grumbling.

Psalm 95, which gives an account of some of this grumbling seeks to bring back the better parts of corporate memory with these words:

Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care.

I reckon worship is one of the most powerful ways of helping us to deal with corporate memory loss. What do you think?

We all have a bottle of water.

When we have a difficult conversation, we take a sip. When we have to make a decision, we take a sip. When there is a disagreement with someone, we have a good gulp of water.

…And by the end of the week, the bottle is empty.

So many people come to church on Sunday needing to get their bottles filled. The sermon from the preacher, the singing, the Bible readings, the prayers, and the good conversations with other Imagepeople all contribute to filling up the bottle.

We go out after church feeling envigorated, empowered, strengthened. We’re ready for the week to come.

…Or maybe we don’t have that experience. What we get on Sunday doesn’t seem to do it for us. The preacher is boring, the songs are lacking in inspiration, and the people we meet seem to be more interested in themselves than in me. So we give church a miss next time.

Clearly we need to do more to make sure that church can really fill people’s bottles. Worship should be a time when we are brought into the presence of God and experience his grace in all that happens. And we need to do all we can to make sure that happens.

But rather than becoming spiritual consumers whose only goal on Sunday is to get our bottles filled, maybe there’s another way forward.

I reckon there is a place for learning how to re-fill our bottles during the week. When we read the Bible or pray, we are putting some water back into our bottle, when we offer a word of encouragement to someone else, we contribute to re-filling the bottle, when we meet with fellow followers of Jesus and share our encouragement, the bottle gets topped up.

So when we get to church on Sunday we are not so anxious to fill our empty bottle, but we are keen to share some of our full (or nearly full) bottle with the people around us whose bottles are less full than our own.

That leaves the church with a couple of goals: We need to make the sure the filling station is working well for the sake of those who have come with empty bottles, and to top up those who are not so empty; but we also need to help people to find ways to become daily re-fillers.

What are some ways you have been able to re-fill your own bottle, and how have you helped to fill other people’s bottles? Share your thoughts.