Secret Santa Worship (Blog) Day – thank you!

The morning after the night before!

And a heartfelt thank you to all who took part.  Those who wrote, obviously, but also those who read and commented.

“Secret Santa Blog Day” began life as a suggestion to write a post about “worship” and have it published on another’s site.  The writer would have no choice in which site it is published, and the publisher would have no choice of which post they published.  Sort of like the workplace “secret santa” (which has presents) – but in this case with “posts”.

But almost all the authors who initially volunteered were already connected with Church Set Free.  So the theme of worship was moved to this blogsite – and the “anonymous secret” element was dropped – and the name for the day evolved into “Secret Santa “Worship” Day” – and along the way a few more bloggers volunteered (they may call it “were ensnared”).

And, then, yesterday – ten posts went up.

All of them written independently.  None of them edited or changed.  Ten ordinary human-beings writing as they were moved to write.  Their only guidance?  That one word: “Worship” – and their own relationship with “God” and “church” (or whatever all that “stuff” means to each).

If you have read them all you will have noticed many differences.  And one common thread running throughout all –

L O V E

Love in relationship.  Love in living.  Love in being.  Love in connecting.  Love as worship and worship as Love.

L O V E.

That common thread blew me away!

Because this word “worship” seems (so often) to be just another “and do this” when it comes to God stuff.

You turn up on “Sunday”, and you worship together.  And then you go home again. Worship done.  God done.  For another week. All the guilt attached to the weekly attendance (or not).  All the routine that is worship (or not).  All the “we all know what worship is don’t we” (and mainly do not).

So on a personal level – to see others write about worship was very helpful … but to see what they wrote “worship IS” to each … ?  That was truly amazing!

It was my privilege to be part of yesterday –

Thank you  – writers … readers … commenters … sharers – and everyone who “connected”.

((hugs))

Paul

 

Create in Me…Secret Santa Worship Day

FullSizeRender

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Psalm 51

This psalm, for me, defines what worship is all about.  It is through the process of “creating” that He inspires me to worship, drawing me closer to Him.  My love for God compels me to create (sing, write music, poetry, take photographs) and as I worship, He is at work within me- renewing me, purifying my heart, and filling me with joy!

Worship is how I connect to Him. I pour out my heart to Him and seek to know Him more. Worship is loving God, and allowing His love to flow through me in my everyday life. I am learning how to love Him more every single day…and that all begins with worship.

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Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Romans 12:1

Worship in itself is an act of obedience. He is worthy of our praise- no matter how we feel or what our circumstances are because He is God!  I worship Him by allowing Him to use all of my life for His glory.  As someone who is a creative person, it is a challenge to “create” when I do not feel inspired…but it is through that process that He fills me.  Even though worship is not based on emotion- there is no greater joy for me than feeling His presence when I am sitting at the piano creating music.

For we live by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7

This is a song I wrote based on Psalm 51 last week. Singing and creating music is a huge part of how I worship and connect with Him. Last week, I was not feeling very “joyful”- but through the process of creating music, He was at work- restoring the joy of His salvation within me.  And praise the Lord, today I can honestly say- He has restored my joy!

 

The Heart of Worship: Secret Santa Worship Day

Worship is such a huge topic; writing a blog post on “Worship” is a much more daunting task than I thought it would be at first. Whole books have been written on worship, there are magazines devoted to it, and oh yes, and people love a good argument on the subject.

I really don’t feel much like arguing today, and I don’t quite have the time for a book-sized post, not that anyone would read such a thing. So, with all respect for the proper technical definitions and academic discussions about the forms and categories of worship and all the rest of that stuff, I thought that I would simply share a little bit about how worship plays its role in my daily life. Now you must understand that as I do this, I’m not suggesting that your experience must, or even should be anything like mine, for God comes to us where we are, and in this respect, one size not always fit all. Rather, I hope that you might get an idea here, or maybe some encouragement to pursue His presence in ways that perhaps, you haven’t thought of before, if anything here makes sense to you.

The way I see it, worship has very little, if anything, to do with rituals or forms, even though it can be individual, in a small group, or in a large body of people; all are equally valid and important. Yet whatever the setting, worship is actually about a relationship, as opposed to a ceremony. You see, ceremonies are the inventions of men; there aren’t any “Christian rituals” in the New Testament that I know of!

Thus, for me, worship is all about spending time in His presence, at His feet, before the throne…

Sometimes, worship is a conversation in which I share my thoughts, feelings, challenges and/or questions or struggles with Him. Other times, I find worship to be found in serving other people, or sharing or in the message of the Gospel, or in giving. Yes, and sometimes I even find blogging to be an act of worship when I am sharing, in spite of my obvious imperfections, the Gospel or the Word with others.

Over the years, I have come to recognize that worship finds more situations, and takes on many more forms than I ever learned about in Seminary! Yet along the journey of a lifetime, I have also learned that worship is never found in certain situations, like when I am too busy feeling sorry for myself, or in times when I am fuming because I didn’t get my way in something, or when I am refusing to help another person. It isn’t found in a situation that I know I shouldn’t be involved in; you know, the ones when I’m off doing something I know I shouldn’t be doing. Yet, whenever I am doing something that I know to be part of God’s will or God’s purpose, such as sharing the Gospel, He is always there and I am engaged in an act of worship. I’ve come to the conclusion, after much thought and prayer, that this happens because worship is not supposed to be about me, what I want, or about my convenience, but rather that it is entirely about God’s will, God’s needs and expectations and accomplishing God’s purpose by serving others.

A reasonable person might read that last sentence and ask if worship is a difficult burden to carry through life, something that we must somehow do to please God, and to have over with. It doesn’t hit me like that at all, in fact it is the best of times in this life, for when we are worshipping God by living our purpose, the very purpose for which we were created in the first place, not only does He sustain us, but we are filled with an indescribable joy, the sort of joy that I, at least, miss when it isn’t there, the kind of joy I want to get back as soon as I possibly can.

That brings us back to the place where I began, talking to Him, a conversation, asking for people to serve, looking, listening and responding to His lead; for me, this is the heart of worship, whether corporate, small group or individual.

We worshipped – Secret Santa Worship Day

As I stood I saw a small light.  A pinprick.  A flicker.  Someone had moved, there in the congregation.  Just for a moment.  And someone else, another minute flare.  And more.  More flickers.  Instants of  “was that … ?” moments.  Like fireflies.  And I looked down as I stood – what about me?  And saw a faint glow within me.  Hidden within.

And as I caressed the words of The Word, I saw fireflies were everywhere.  Flickers.  Disconnected and faint.  Alone.  Each on its own.

And as I spoke words I do not remember, meanings I cannot recollect, I saw these faint lights raise above each one.  A pinprick of light.  And each began to circle.  Faster and faster.

Even as I spoke.

Entranced.

My lips moving, breath in and breath out, words of sound  … I know not what.

Faster and faster this whirling light show.

Ever faster and brighter as now there were no pinpricks.

All were one.

A circle of flame above my head.

Above our heads.

The noise was monstrous.

I could not hear my voice even though words continued.

And without thought I stopped.

Lost in wonder at the sight and sound of this fire.

And others followed my gaze.

Others seemed to see as well.

Others seemed to hear.

I heard gasps of wonder.

I saw some hear music.

I saw some see their friends.

I saw others see their beloved loved ones.

I saw and heard such beauty everywhere …

48493_psycedelic_fire-storm

http://www.newgrounds.com/art/view/psycedelic/fire-storm

I

Saw

Us

See

Us 

As

Love

Sees

Us

There was no “collar or calling”.  There was no “them and us”.  There was no “saved or unclean”.  There was just great beauty, great union, great tears of joy.  We were as we Are.  As One in One of One.  We are in One and One in each.

As I stood at the lectern I saw a great light.  A union of spirit within.  And then sparks broke away and fell.  Each alighting on a head.  Each settling in the hair – then the faces aglow – then within each.   Not just within – within and without.  Each of us alive, alight and changed.

As I stood …

We worshipped.

Secret Santa Worship Blog Day – appetiser UPDATE

Dear Believer –

Do you like tough questions?  What do I do when presented with tough questions?  How do I respond when presented with tough questions?  Where is worship in tough questions?

“Secret Santa Worship Blog Day” Appetiser

If you were presented with this post of tough questions … what would you say … what would you think … how would you respond:

Nan’s Notebook: “Dear Believer”

In this safe-place for all, this place to be nurtured (not neutered) – how would you respond?

and Nan is warmly invited to any conversation in the comments.

Thank you –

Paul

As promised my own thoughts are this …

Hi Nan, the comments (I hope) are directed only to the video. 

Because this video is so beautifully shot it is almost a work of art.  I love the creativity, the energy, the beauty, the research, and the presentation.  And I love the questions and statements – they are the sort not readily welcomed (in my experience) – the questions that start a fight – the ones which bring out the knee-jerk responses – the emotional responses.  

Maybe because “Dear Believer” is an emotional statement.  An emotional statement of “the questioned” and an emotional statement of “the questioner.”

I watched a beautiful emotional video with some loving questions.  And I saw peace, I saw kindness, I saw gentleness – and you selected in such wondrous images.  Thank you.  

Now let’s talk “belief”.

 There are billions of people in this world.  I have fallen in love with one of them.  I had no choice in the sex of the one I fell in love with, nor she me.  Outside of that, I fell in love with someone who lived within my locality and life circles.  That means I excluded zillions of others I never met.  Does it mean I fell in love with the wrong person, that I should have fallen in love with someone in a different continent?  One I will never meet, one I will never know, one I will only hear about through others?

Because I fell in love with someone I wanted to live with.  To create life with. To have a family with.  Just like (and unlike) every other family in my culture and locality.  Just like (and unlike) every other love affair the world over.  I don’t understand love.  But I do know that it is much more than procreation and species survival.

Because I almost lost this unique and precious relationship.

That’s how I know it is much more than simply procreation and species survival.  I know the pain of loss.  And I also know this one single person is the one person who allows me to feel whole.  Who allows me to feel safe. Who nurtures me by simply being the person they are – a person as incomplete and free and safe as I am – because I nurture them as they nurture me.

Is that science?  Is that God?  I just call all of it  “Love”.

And I have found that Love connects – whereas religion sticks us together or tears us apart.  I have found Love empowers – whereas religion so often diminishes and constricts.  I have found that Love is stronger than death – and that religion so often kills love in the very name of love.  I have found religion to be belief and not to be love.

So let’s stick with “belief” –

I believe this seat is solid, but science says it is nothing more than space and a few bits too small to see (but may change its mind about that again).  I believe my computer will switch on when I press a button, but I do not know all the “why”s.  I believe words will happen when I click a keyboard, but … (ditto).  I believe the sun will come up tomorrow even if I cannot see if for cloud cover.  And you know what?  I believe you believe that as well.

And all of those are beliefs.

So if my “belief” is a belief called Christianity, and your “belief” is a belief called Atheism – then we already have much in common – so let’s not fall out.

But why stop there?  Why stop at simply a belief structure?  That isn’t living to its fullest.  That will simply constrict and change and change and constrict.  Why don’t we move on to Love and a question of my own:

Is Love a belief – and is Love something we can all share equally?

My answer?  Whether “Love is Love” or “Love is a belief” – why would I want to waste time sniping “verbal bullets” of God-religious or Atheist-religious or anything quasi-religious when it is all just one belief factory?

Because beliefs change.  Science-beliefs change, religious-beliefs change, opinion-beliefs change.  So if we spend our lives sniping at each others changing beliefs from behind our changing own beliefs – isn’t that a bit weird?  

Because what good does that do – to you or me or any of us?  Just how does that allow Love to flourish – how does that allow any of us to flourish?

So would you allow me this one request:

Whatever your country, culture, era … whatever your name for “God” or “no God” or “maybe I am not sure god, God” or any other combo you can name … whatever your belief is called – try replacing it with:

“Love – unconditional love”, and now …

Let’s try and snipe at each other.  Because one thing I do know for real – arguing about unconditional love is as demanding as unconditionally loving.

And Nan, if you hadn’t allowed me to connect with you and this video – I would never have known I even thought these words.

So Thank You – you have allowed me to flourish!  I hope the flourishing is mutual  🙂

((hugs))

Secret Santa Worship Blog Day … appetiser

Dear Believer –

Do you like tough questions?  What do I do when presented with tough questions?  How do I respond when presented with tough questions?  Where is worship in tough questions?

“Secret Santa Worship Blog Day” Appetiser

If you were presented with this post of tough questions … what would you say … what would you think … how would you respond:

Nan’s Notebook: “Dear Believer”

In this safe-place for all, this place to be nurtured (not neutered) – how would you respond?

and Nan is warmly invited to any conversation in the comments.

Thank you –

Paul

(My own thoughts? Check back here in a day or two – I will update this post and include them)

Secret Santa Worship Day II

On December 9th, Church Set Free will be a “Worship Zone”.

All of us will each write a post about what “worship means to me”.

And we have contributing “authors” who will also be writing posts here on the same word: worship.  So if you missed the invitation and want to add your voice, please add a comment below.

Worship – Secret Santa – Church Set Free – 9th December … It’s personal!

December 9th 2015

(make a note in your diary)

And a thought from me …

Why do I find this song as powerful a communion with my Lord as many “hymns and praise songs” in church as part of “worship”?  Is God in Eric Clapton, is God in all of us?  And are we all in each other, in God?

(and would you call it “worship” if I offered this song to you?)