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The LIFE of Worship (Trail Blazing #2, 2016-1009)

. 5 min read

Psalm
73 (call to worship)
Daniel
6 (kids), “Read your Bible, pray every day”
Mark
4.35-41 (message)
Last
week, we introduced this series of messages. We’re using the metaphor of “trail
blazing” to talk about the new adventures in discipleship to which Jesus calls
each of us. To take this a little further today, we’re going to hear from our
own Steve Ross, who is working on hiking the Appalachian Trail in sections. (The
white blaze shown in the photo theme is from the AT.) Then, we’ll examine our
Scriptures around the first sphere of discipleship practices – worship – and
discuss specific practices that turn worship into a way of life, not only a
Sunday morning experience.
VIDEO – Steve Ross
Theme Scripture
for the series:
Since
we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let
us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,
and
let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
looking
to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,
who
for the sake of the joy that was set before him
endured
the cross, disregarding its shame,
and
has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider
him, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.
from Hebrews 12:1-3
Mark
4, Jesus calms the storm
      Q:
Where is the life of worship in this story?
      A: Obvious answer – in the response of the
disciples. “Who is this guy?” Mysterium
tremendum.
      A: Overlooked answer – Jesus sleeping.
The most overlooked
dimension of the practice of worship
is Sabbath – rest. Sabbath
isn’t about going back to the blue laws. Sabbath isn’t about what we’ve lost as
we are no longer a Christian-dominant society. Sabbath is tied to two stories
that are foundational for Christians and Jews.

1.    
Creation: God created “the heavens and the earth” in six
days and rested on the seventh day (Genesis 1-2). That is, God stopped working.
If God can stop working – and everyone and everything depends on God (think of
the emails and tasks that God has to manage!) – then we can too. If God can
stop working, kick off the shoes, prop up the feet, and admire God’s work, then
we can too.
2.    
Redemption: God redeems Israel from slavery in Egypt. Slaves
have to work when the boss man says “work”. Now that Israel is free, Israel is
called to recognize and celebrate that freedom, not by replacing working for
the boss with working for your self, but by being free not to work at all. “The
LORD has given you the Sabbath”
(Exodus 16.29).
The
Sabbath was time to not work in order to celebrate creation (that is, to PLAY)
and in order to celebrate redemption (that is, to WORSHIP).
Here’s Jesus,
in the boat, sleeping, resting, because his life is a life of worship. Here’s
Jesus, calming the storm with a word of command, not simply because he is
God-in-flesh, but because only a man who
is at rest can bring true rest to the storms of life.
      Here’s
Daniel
, praying the way he always prayed, thrown into a den of lions. He is
willing to die, but he lives. The man who practiced prayer, who lives at peace
with God, finds an unexpected peace among the hungry beasts.
      Here’s
Asaph
, the psalm-writer, struggling with his faith. “As for me, my feet had
almost slipped.” He has become jealous of the wicked, envious of the godless.
They get away with doing whatever they want and manage to avoid consequence.
And he’s trying to be godly, an inconvenience in many ways, and finds himself
no better off. Until he enters the sanctuary, until he returns to worship, until
he remembers that we are grounded in grace that is greater than the injustice
of the system, anchored in hope that is more profound than the cynics, secured
by a love that is unknown to those who do not know our God.
This is tough
for preachers. Many of us struggle with keeping Sabbath, even a Sabbath that is
limited to the worship gathering of the church. We’re wondering if the sound
system is working right, if we have enough programs for everyone, if we can
remember the name of that person we met last week. Some of my pastor colleagues
know that they cannot lead worship and worship at the same time, so they keep
Sabbath, they practice worship by dropping in on the gathering of another
church in their area.
      This is tough for all of us. Of the 9
spiritual practices that we list in our Trail Blazing handout, Sabbath is one
of two that are most at odds with our
culture today.
We’d rather brag about how busy we are than set the kind of
boundaries we need to keep our lives open to God’s gift. All the time, I say,
“Better busy than bored!” We may not be slaves, but we live under the thumb of
“the man”. I wish I had a simple, comprehensive, solution for you. But I don’t.
Every day, every week, I have to scrape and claw for time for what is most
important.
      Because the practices of worship – prayer,
Scripture, and Sabbath – are what keep us grounded. The practices of worship
are what bring rest and peace in our storms. Our private practice has a huge impact, even a public impact. It is
not as dramatic as calming a storm. But, over time, its impact is more powerful
and more significant than what Jesus did in that one moment.
One
of my privileges is visiting with our
veteran saints
. Molly Pisch told me of her prayer life: “Poor God, he hears
from me all the time.” She lives what Paul encouraged: “Pray without ceasing”
(1 Thessalonians 5.17). Marian Taylor begins every day with an hour of
Scripture reading and prayer. Here’s her summary of what she rightly calls her
“service” each morning:
VIDEO – Marian Taylor
I
share Marian’s story not to make us feel
guilty
about not spending an hour a day with the Scripture and prayer. I
share Molly’s testimony not to make us feel like failures because we don’t pray
without ceasing. I share it because we grow in our practices by emulating
others, and because Marian and Molly didn’t start out their adventure with
Jesus where they are now. They grew into it. You don’t go from the couch to a 5K race in a day. You don’t
go from zero to 60 minutes of daily prayer overnight. Some people through hike
the entire Appalachian Trail, others section hike it, still others day hike it.
They are all on the adventure, all on the trail.
I
want to turn your attention to the grey
sheet
inside the Trail Blazing handout. It has a list of the three basic
practices associated with worship – prayer, Scripture, and Sabbath – along with
practical suggestions for us to take our next steps. Next week, we’ll look at
the Community of FRIENDS, after that the PURPOSE of Mission. For each of these
areas of discipleship, we’ll have a list of possible next steps. On the final
Sunday of the month, as we wrap up this series and tie it all together, we’ll
each be invited to indicate the next steps we believe God is calling us to make
together. Today, we simply preview some possible steps in worship practice.
READ
THROUGH and comment.
The
practices of worship – prayer, Scripture, and Sabbath – are what keep us
grounded. The practices of worship are what bring rest and peace in our storms.
Our private practice has a huge
impact, even a public impact. It is not as dramatic as calming a storm. But,
over time, its impact is more powerful and more significant than what Jesus did
in that one moment.

      Here’s Jesus, in the boat, sleeping,
resting, because his life is a life of worship. Here’s Jesus, calming the storm
with a word of command, not simply because he is God-in-flesh, but because only a man who is at rest can bring true
rest to the storms of life.