Thursday, December 03, 2009

Total Worship

I can’t remember where I read this but I came across a Franciscan Blessing recently. It reads:

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God, who Creates, Redeems and Sanctifies be upon you and all you love and pray for this day, and forevermore. Amen

I used this to end a sermon called Worship Fully, part of an Advent Conspiracy series we’re doing at church. It struck me that this blessing gets to the heart of the matter of worship. As long as I’m complacent I can’t jump into worship with both feet, walking my talk and not holding back. In order for me to worship fully I need to have some discomfort and discontent in my life that forces me to go deep within my heart where Jesus is calling me to follow Him with no reservations. It’s a call to a healthy skepticism about the things of this world that drives me to respond with all I am to Jesus.

But I struggle with this. I’m a little like some of the disciples in Matthew 28 (The Message):

"Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally. "

I hold back, not sure about worship sometimes, and certainly resist risking myself totally. What about you?

It's easy to understand. I come from a Christian world that battles both propriety and privacy. And the culture I live in conspires against worshipping anything but the false idols of this age. Why worship God when we can worship our kids, our music, our jobs, what we own, and where we vacation?

During Advent we’re supposed to be waiting in great anticipation for the coming of our Savior. But do we? My guess is that most of us have become half-hearted in our worship of God. Natural inclinations towards both propriety and privacy join forces with the cultural inclination to worship anything but the true God of true Gods. And when we pay only lip service to the triune God of Scripture we really do miss out on the adventure of total worship.

This is a tough season for Christ followers. The gods of Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, Walmart, Target and Apple beckon us to bow in their presence. They send as their messengers such things as vanity, ambition, keeping with the Jones’s, an unwillingness to disappoint others …all conspiring to keep us away from the Savior and his call on our lives.

Our culture says ‘it’s about you, spend more, preserve your lifestyle, be proper, keep your faith private, and rationalize your lifestyle. 'But, we’re called to a life of total worship. And when we jump into the riskiness and assurance of faith we will be given the grace to believe that we can make a difference in this world, doing what others claim cannot be done, caring about the people and things that are closest to God’s heart.

So, let's enjoy the season. Let's thumb our noses and our pocketbooks at the gods of the age. Let's peer out behind the boundaries of propriety and privacy. Let's love on those God has given us and extend our reach to those who are surrounded by injustice, poverty, and isolation.

So,think about this as part of the equation for moving towards total worship of a great God... Let's thumb our noses at the unimportant + break free of what binds us + Living with thankfulness for what we already have + investing our time, talent, and treasure in those who have far less = A very merry Christmas.

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