Sermon St George and St Cyr 27th August 2023
Here we are at the end of August, and the last of our summer series on the subject of worship. We have enjoyed seven sermons, each giving thoughtful and well researched reflections about different aspects of how we relate to God.
I have been asked to round it all off this week and, as you know, Fiona thought that it would be good to give everyone the chance to ask questions if they wished. No-one has sent us any questions – perhaps they’ve already been answered! A brief summary of the sermons might spark a thought? If not, Catherine and I were discussing yet another aspect of worship in an email conversation yesterday ……..
We began by thinking about Psalms, the Jewish worship songs and prayers from about 1,000 years before Christ, which Roger reminded us cover every aspect of human emotion from the depth of despair to the height of Joy.
Ken, too, talked about the many emotions that we can experience in worship, and the many different ways that there are to worship God – ranging from singing, dancing and walking in the countryside, to sitting in contemplative silence.
All too often, emotions that we can experience are guilt, remorse and regret, and part of our worship is to take those feelings to God, and ask for his forgiveness for the things that we’ve done wrong. Last week, Roger reminded us that God wants to forgive us; he looked at the prophet Amos warning God’s people that they needed to change their ways. He told us that, whatever is troubling us, the best advice is, in the words of the hymn, to “take it to the Lord in prayer”.
Fiona reminded us that God invites us to come to him – he wants to be in relationship with us, just as he walked in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve before the Fall. God doesn’t worry about the same things that we do – whether we’re good enough, wearing the right clothes or saying the “right” prayers. He just wants us to come and be with him.
The most powerful way that many of us feel that we can be with God is in the fellowship of the Holy Communion service. Ken described his own love of this form of worship, and his belief in the Real Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. He acknowledged that, within the Church of England, individuals believe somewhat different things about the exact nature of the Eucharist, but the important thing is that we are all able to come together as members of the One Body of Christ.
Our roots in the Jewish religion were picked up again when Andrew led us through the millennia of human relationship with God and one another - from earliest times, through upheavals ranging from the Israelites’ time of wandering in the wilderness to the English break with the Roman Catholic church at the Reformation. And bringing us up to the present day, meeting with God and one another in varying forms of worship.
The question of whether it matters where and how we worship was key to the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well, when he tells her that the time is coming when we will all worship in Spirit and Truth. In this sermon, Peter reflected on Paul’s letter to the Romans, when he tells us that living as God wants us to is our spiritual act of worship. Living and worshipping in the power of God’s Holy Spirit is what matters.
This thought leads rather neatly to what Catherine and I were discussing, that we both feel that worship can take the form of what we do in our day-to-day lives. Not just while we pray, sing or read our Bibles but while we carry out our paid or voluntary work, our household chores, our caring duties, and while we pursue our pleasures and interests. Today’s reading from Colossians tells us to clothe ourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; if we do everything with these attitudes they can all be our spiritual act of worship.
Maybe these thoughts have sparked a question or comment?
At St George’s, we then talked a bit about God welcoming us “just as we are”, and how we can worship God in the things that we do. At St Cyr’s, we didn’t have any discussion as we were a bit behind on time because of the lift.
Rev'd Canon Frances Wookey