Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of November 10, 2019

Sermon: “Worshipping Faithfully”

Last week we talked about the “we” in worship.
  • Worship is a “we” event as we are all gathered together in His name both with the saints on earth and those above.  
  • Worship is a “wee” moment, a small slice of your daily lives, and
  • Worship is a “weeeee” experience, that thrilling rush when we realize that God himself and His gifts come to us here. 

Today we will see that worship is a “to be” reality.  We are all called to be living sacrifices and live a life of worship with our whole being and that is what worshiping faithfully is all about.

To begin I want to start by looking at our Old Testament lesson from Sunday.  From Exodus chapter 3, “Moses was taking care of the sheep of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian.” (Exodus 3:1a)  Let’s stop right there. 

I’m guessing that many of you know the story of Moses, but let me sum it up for you.  Since the time of Joseph, Jacob’s family had lived in Egypt.  They grew in numbers and the promise given to Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation was coming to pass. The new Pharaoh soon became leery of the Israelites and ordered all the male children born to God’s people to be killed in hopes of destroying them. But when Moses was born his mother hid him in a basket, set him in the Nile and was spared; the Pharaoh’s daughter eventually discovered him and Moses grew up in the court of the king and became a powerful person in Egypt.   One day Moses sees an Egyptian mistreating an Israelite so he intervenes. In doing so he commits murder and runs away to the land of Midian.  Back to the text…

 “As [Moses] led the sheep to the far side of the desert, he came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  The Messenger of the LORD appeared to him there as flames of fire coming out of a bush.  Moses looked, and although the bush was on fire, it was not burning up.  So he thought, ‘Why isn’t this bush burning up?  I must go over there and see this strange sight.  When the LORD saw that Moses had come over to see it, God called him form the bush Moses, Moses!  Moses answered, ‘Here I am!’” (Exodus 3:1b-4)

You heard the rest of the text; Moses encounters God visibly and tangibly.  Moses takes off his sandals because he was standing on holy ground.  In this text we see that God calls, God redeems, God loves and God sends his people to be.

The great “I AM” calls Moses “to be” with the people, to stop running away, and go with confidence to be a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. 

Moses was a runaway.
  • He ran from his trouble thinking they would disappear.
  • He fled from those who sought to bring him to justice
  • He attempted to justify his behavior in order to gain his freedom and ultimately…
  • He was a prisoner of his disobedience, separated from God, but God had other plans.

His story is not unlike your story.  Your inclination and mine is to run from trouble, flee from the things that seek retribution or justice and justify behavior in order to be free.  But it doesn't work. 

What have you done or left undone that has put you on the run?   So often our feet do not stand on holy ground and attempt to make an end around.  The calling “to be” is replaced by the desire to just be me.    What have you put your trust in that makes the worship of the great “I Am” something that is done only out of compulsion or habit? What is calling after you and enticing you to follow the things of the world?

Like Moses, you have been called, you have been redeemed, you have been loved and you have been sent to be.  This begins in this place, here in worship and with those around you as the church.  The word we translate as church in the New Testament has the idea of both being called out and called together. It is Christ who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light, did so through his nail scarred hands.

Without Jesus, the problem of sin and its vile handmaiden, death would run rampant in the world.  God himself had to enter the world of real sin and unrelenting death in order to bear its responsibility and pay its price. It’s through Christ’s body, beaten and broken and then raised to new life for us, that the enemies of this life and the next are defeated so that we might obtain the gifts of resurrection and everlasting life.

While our sin continues to distract us with salvation attempts that avoid all suffering because of the things we have done, it is the cross that counters all earthly attempts at justification.  It seeks all who have run away and run after.  It is at the cross that Christ saves through suffering and weakness rather than victory and strength. At the cross, Christ conquers what we cannot and redeems what we would rather worship. The scars of his hands become the sign of his victory, for by his wounds you have been healed. In Christ you are forgiven!! His cry of “It is finished!” is the call to be gathered together to worship faithfully. 

The church is that community that God has called out of the world, out of death and sin and hell, and into Christ, his mission, his ministry, his message and is sent to the ends of the earth.  And in worship is where we are called out, called together and called to be.  From this “we” moment we are “to be” in the world.  Like Moses at the burning bush, in worship we too come face to face with God’s mercy and grace, which fundamentally changes who we are and what we do. 

Word, Spirit and Sacrament come to us in real, tangible, objective ways when we are gathered in this place.  Here week after week, we hear the call again and are gathered into Christ. In worship we are most at rest and most alive.  As we worship we receive and we offer back what we have first received.  We sing in celebration because God has given us a song.  We recite and speak the Word because we have received all the promises of the Word made flesh, in Christ.  We proclaim the forgiveness of sin because we have received forgiveness at the cross and we proclaim the passion, the death and the resurrection of our Lord because through him we have been raised to newness of life. As we worship Christ himself arrives and is genuinely and truly present with us.  He is not present is some strange spiritual or metaphorical sense. 

When Christ says he is present, he doesn't mean he is symbolically present.  When we tell our kids, “Don’t worry, I’ll pick you up at five” we mean what we say.  This is not a symbolic promise.  My kids would not stand for this and in worship we shouldn’t either. Christ really comes to you here in this place. 

In word and sacrament, the Lord who calls and gathers, arrives. Here God himself is present and beyond our comprehension the sacraments unveil themselves, unmasking their appearance with profound comfort, not bread and wine alone, not water alone, not just words on a page of ancient writing. No!  He is here!!

In worship we are not alone, Christ is here and to be with Christ means we receive the forgiveness of sins, the Spirit of truth, the holiness of righteousness, the life that never dies, the Father who never leaves, the Spirit who enlivens us to understanding, the faith that rests on God’s words, and the brother and sister next to you who need you, because you bring Christ to them.

Worshipping faithfully is much more than just the “wee” hour you are here in this place.  Scripture describes our spiritual act of worship is “to be” living sacrifices to those next to you.

In his letter to the Romans Paul lays out what worship looks like every day when he writes, “Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1)

Worship is a “to be” reality not just in the wee moment you are here but “to be” in every moment.

We live in a world where oh so many are alone, running from their sin and hiding in the lifeless desert of life.

God calls us to be with them, partnered with one another and enjoined to an intimate fellowship of Christ’s own making that preserves, admonishes, forgives, encourages, proclaims, and strengthens to be Jesus to them.

Today we stand on holy ground for here in this place we encounter the very presence of God and are given all the gifts of Christ himself and everything we need to be living sacrifices; you for me and me for you; us for the world; us with Christ out in the world as living sacrifices holy and pleasing…this is our spiritual act of worship. 

In Christ, the span of separation is overcome; the chasm of sin is crossed.  As we become living sacrifices for others we bring the gifts of Christ to the world.  We are Christ’s and he is ours and the world waits for the gifts of Christ that are given to you here because the world longs for the news that death is no more and that evil is condemned.

The world waits even if it is not aware its waiting, to make the confession that is already on your lips, that in Christ sin has been destroyed and through you he is calling the world, redeeming the world, loving the world as you are sent to be, this is living a life of worshiping faithfully.

-Pr. Seth Moorman


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