WORSHIP IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH (February 2020)

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Dear Friends

As I write we are two weeks into our new service pattern. First, a huge thank you to everyone who is getting up half an hour earlier, particularly as we are in the darkest and most miserable time of year.

Working on a blank canvas to help design our new 11.30 service has got me thinking – what is worship?

When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well he told her that ‘true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:23). Sounds good, but what does worship in spirit and truth look like? Really? Do we have to dance in our underwear like king David (2 Sam 6:14-22)?

Gospel writer John explains that truth is brought through Jesus (John 1:17, 14:6) and its purpose is to ‘make you free’ from enslavement to sin (John 8:32). In the first covenant between God and Israel Moses summarised the deal saying: ‘So now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? Only to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord your God… for your own well-being’ (Deut 10:12-13). Jesus quoted this verse when he was asked how humanity can receive eternal life (Luke 10:27). True worship is an expression of our gratitude that we are forgiven, and that we can be set free from sinful ways of thinking and behaving. It’s much more than what happens when we meet on Sunday.

Thankfully God has given us a guide, the Holy Spirit, who is described as the ‘spirit of truth’ (John 14:14). He is the one who will ‘guide [us] into all truth’ (John 16:13). In the Old Testament individuals like kings or prophets receive God’s Spirit so that they have skills and power for specific tasks. As followers of Jesus, every one of us was given the gift of the Holy Spirit at our baptism (Matt 3:11). It’s quite incredible to think that the Spirit of God lives within each one of us. Apostle Peter describes the Holy Spirit as God’s ‘gift’ to believers (Acts 2:38). The rest of the book of Acts describes how believers prayed and laid hands on people. How those people received the Holy Spirit and went on to share their faith in amazing ways.

It makes me wonder. How can we draw close to God through the power of his Holy Spirit? How can we wrestle with the truths of the Bible and work out what they might mean in our own lives? How can we witness to our faith in all we do and say? Perhaps a better question is, how might the time we spend together on a Sunday help us to worship God in every aspect of our lives every day of the week?

Answers on a postcard, please…

With love,  Louise Annison