Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sunday's sermon: Next steps

This Sunday, February 13, the sermon was titled, "The Ontology of Worship" from Luke 7:36-50. What are the "next steps" God will have us take now in response to the Word we heard?
"May we receive the word we hear each in an honest heart
And keep the precious treasure there, and never with it part."
1. Ontology has to do with "being, existence, and reality" - the reason or purpose for which a thing exists. What is the reason or purpose for the church?
2. We discussed four things regarding the ontology of worship:
  1. Feelings must be secondary or worship becomes utilitarian, where the only reason we have for coming to worship is to ask, "What's in it for me?"
  2. Duty must not be the aim, or worship becomes a chore. If/when someone asks you why you came to church today your answer is about a function or a responsibility (singing, counting money, preaching), you probably showed up here to do chores, not worship.
  3. Responses in worship must be genuine, or worship becomes orchestrated and praise becomes a performance for the wrong audience.
  4. Results are not always immediate, for worship is a lifestyle, not just an event or a moment in time out of our otherwise busy lives and schedules.
3. If you don't "feel" anything in worship, could you still worship God? We should be careful that we are not worshipping our FEELINGS instead of worshipping GOD. Feelings are the gift; we worship God, who is the Giver.
4. Do you come to church when there is nothing for you to "do" (i.e., sing, usher, lead, etc.)? Or are you only motivated to attend church when there are "chores" you must do?
5. How do we get worship and entertainment confused? Why should we take greater care not to make this mistake?
6. How does/can worship build mature Christians?
7. What questions/thoughts/convictions were raised in your mind after hearing this sermon or reading this passage? How is God speaking to you now?
I share again with you this story that closed the sermon. Are you willing to accept the "pardon" that is offered to you?

In 1830, two men were arrested for mail theft, George Wilson and James Porter. The penalty for this crime was hanging. James Porter was tried and hanged. George Wilson was also tried and sentenced, but some influential friends of his contacted the president, President Andrew Jackson, and pleaded on his behalf for mercy. President Jackson issued George Wilson a pardon, but he refused to accept it! The question to be decided was: should George Wilson be freed or hanged?

They case went to the Supreme Court of the United States, and the Chief Justice, John Marshall, handed down this decision (United States v. Wilson, 1833):


A pardon is an act of grace, proceeding from the power entrusted with the execution of the laws, which exempts the individual on whom it is bestowed from the punishment the law inflicts for a crime he has committed… A pardon is a deed, to the validity of which delivery is essential, and delivery is not complete without acceptance. It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered, and if it be rejected, we have discovered no power in a court to force it on him.

Pastor Kenneth Q. James
Psalm 119:33-34

"Let truth, the light of my heart, speak to me, and not my own darkness!"
Augustine, Confessions, Book XII, Chapter 11

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