Worship

What does worship mean to you?

When I was confirmed in the Church of England, back in 2001, aged 13, the then Bishop of Carlisle Graham Dow prayed over me. He prayed over each of us, as he laid hands on us, and later wrote the words that had come to mind in a book for each newly confirmed person. I remember that everyone else got a written out piece of scripture, or a couple of sentences, but I received just 1 word.

Worship.

But what did that mean? What does it mean for me and my life?

When we look at the dictionary, worship is an act of reverence and devotion towards a deity. It’s interesting then, isn’t it, that we (members of society) worship football players, reality television stars, pop stars and other celebrities. We elevate ordinary people, who are skilled in some cases yet seemingly unskilled for the most part, to the status of god, and for what purpose? Why do we worship other humans? In their frailty and fault, surely humans are the least deserving of our adoration? Recent studies talk about the damaging effects of our celebrity culture, especially the filtered lives portrayed on social media. So why do we do it to ourselves?

We can appreciate the joy a well-acted film brings to our lives, or the range of emotions we can feel as we cheer for our favoured football team to win. But do we really need to worship them? Have they really done anything for us in our life that is worthy of Godly worship? Are they truly worthy of elevation?

God, on the other hand, has done everything for me. Recently we celebrated Easter and that moment of resurrection, that eternal moment of Jesus’ victory over sin and death, that wonderful, life giving, earth shattering moment. It makes sense to me, then, that I revere God, and I am devoted to him. My whole life is devoted to him and so, therefore, my whole life should be worship.

Sometimes I’m a good worshiper. Sometimes I’m terrible. A lot of the time it’s because I place things in the place of God, and inadvertently worship them. Chasing a higher mark in an essay; staying up to watch a film instead of reading my bible; thinking I’m responsible for any success. I guess we all do it, but it’s about recognising it and trying again every day. Until our whole lives are offered up as worship to God.

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. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12: 1-2)

 

Burn

“And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire, that ring of fire…”

So goes the classic Johnny Cash song. It’s about falling in love, the way it consumes you so you can’t escape. Love envelopes you, and it’s intense, especially in those early days. But what makes you burn? What sets your heart on fire?

For me it is the gospel of Christ – the truth that Jesus died for me, even though I am so undeserving. It is that, when I was in the darkest place, he reached into it with his hand and helped me up. He shone a light in the darkness, and helped me make that light brighter.

If that makes me burn, why don’t I talk about it more? A friend, and member of our congregation, challenged us recently in a sermon. In fact, I talked about it a couple of weeks ago. She asked exactly the same question. For me, it’s because I feel anxious that I’ll say something wrong. Or that they’ll ask a question I don’t know the answer to. 

I’m setting myself a challenge this week: this week I’m going to talk to one person about my faith and Jesus. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Pleasure

Pleasure: enjoyment, happiness, or satisfaction, or something that gives this.

What gives us enjoyment? What gives us happiness? Or satisfaction? I think they’re very different things, actually. For example, cooking for friends and family does bring me enjoyment, yes, but is that the same as the satisfaction of a new skill learned? Are either of those things equal to the joy that fills my heart when I hear my daughter’s gurgling laugh?

Does it matter?

Surely, what matters is the experiences of life, whether they’re pleasurable or not. Some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned have come from my biggest challenges, times that were anything but filled with happiness. But those times are not now. Now I am learning new things, but in a different way.

A fortnight ago, I wrote about seasons for everything. Right now I’m in a season of joy. It’s a tired season, of new parenthood and broken nights, but it’s a season of great joy all the same. I find pleasure in my daughter; watching her sleep and feed; listening to her chatter; laughing with her and playing alongside her. She is filled with a joy that overflows, like a babbling brook.

As a friend reminded me this morning, what’s better than loving our children?

Nothing.

Tourist

I write this, sat on the floor on the landing in my house, with only the backlight of my iPad giving me sight. My husband lies asleep in our bed on his own; our daughter lies in her cot, awake and gurgling. My husband is poorly, and the combination of baby monitor noise, lamp switching on and off, and me getting in and out of bed isn’t helping. Bless him! I hate it when he is ill.

I have a sudden realisation that I do not know this woman. This woman is one who begrudgingly gives up a Saturday lie-in, and rejoiced when morning church moved back 30 minutes. This woman is one who loves to be comfortable in bed, and who dislikes anyone who ruins that. This woman is one who throws death stares at her husband when he so much as rolls over too loudly whilst she is nursing their daughter.

I’d like to think this is a permanent shift in who I am, that I am somehow becoming more selfless. But I know this isn’t a state of permanency. One day, probably a long way from now, my daughter will not need me at night, and I will once again become the woman who puts sleep and comfort above all other priorities in the home.

This woman is not a permanent resident, she is merely a tourist.

Fork

A challenge this morning, to write a post prompted by the word ‘fork’.

Whilst visiting a mission partner in Kenya in 2013, each night the team and I ate with the children at the children’s home. Each night they would lay the table with just 6 knives and 6 forks, despite there being far more people. Why?

Because they didn’t use a fork to scoop the food into their mouths. The first night I observed and then, consequently, copied the following nights. The children were clearly amused at me, as I learned a new skill.

I would have to take the corn starch and pat it together in my hand, before using this improvised fork to scoop up the meat and sauce into my mouth. It was a challenge, very messy, but good fun.