Glen Rose 5-P:
The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations #3
Worship is the word we as Christians use to describe those times we, as God’s people, deliberately seek to encounter God in Christ. Worship can be individual or it can be corporate. People can worship on their own or in a group. Both kinds are essential to the Christian life and Discipleship.
The word passionate expresses a desire, a strong feeling, a sense of heightened importance. The word Passionate describes that emotional connection between the Knowing about God that we talked about last week and our Loving God. Worship becomes and expression of that Loving as we seek out God’s presence with eagerness, anticipation, expectancy, and deep commitment.
This is moving our faith from the Head to the Heart. Worship is part of the Heart Work of our Faith. And when it moves from our Head to our Hearts, our Worship becomes Passionate, that’s our focus for today, Passionate Worship.
Let’s look at two passages of Scripture that I think help us focus on what Passionate Worship is all about. Luke 10:25-28 and Psalm 100:1-5 (NRSV)
 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”
 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
Psalm 100:1-5 (NRSV)
 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth.
 Worship the LORD with gladness; come into his presence with singing.
 Know that the LORD is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name.
 For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
I think the key to Passionate Worship begins with an understanding of what this lawyer told to Jesus when Jesus tossed his question back to him. “You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, and with ALL your soul, and with ALL your strength, and with ALL your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
Loving God wasn’t the Lawyer’s problem. He loved God. Jesus saw that, the lawyer knew it. But he hadn’t given his ALL. We all love God, to some degree or another or we wouldn’t be here. We love God but do we love God with ALL we are? And does that show in our Worship?
A. One of the things that I think makes Passionate Worship Passionate is the sense of enthusiasm with which people come and participate. What would it be like if we were just half as enthusiastic about worship as we are about The Cowboys, The Rangers, The Glen Rose Tigers, NASCAR, Golf, you name it. We go to these sporting events and lose all abandon in our enthusiasm and passion for the team.
What would that look like in Worship? It might look like this. WATCH
B. I know that’s a little farfetched, but what IF we came to Worship with just half the enthusiasm that we bring to sporting events.
Owe ran into a full blown Cowboys fan at the bank yesterday. He saw me taking pictures of his car and jumped out to talk all things Cowboys. He wasn’t obnoxious and he got a kick out my taking pictures. What if we had half that enthusiasm for our faith, for being a Disciple?
Oh, I’m not talking about having cheerleaders and tailgate parties, thought that might be fun. But I am talking about showing a little bit of enthusiasm when we sing. What if we were called “Enthusiasts” like Wesley and the early Methodists.
The Wesley’s wrote directions for Singing that have been in the Methodist Hymnals since the first one was compiled.
The fourth direction reads: “Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep, but lift your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sung the songs of Satan.”(1)
Remember the Whoopi Goldberg movie, Sister Act? Well, Sister Mary Clarence, as she is teaching the nuns about singing in a choir, puts it like this:
We ARE singing for God. And that should be our attitude in all aspects of worship because when we gather for worship it’s not for our pleasure. Our Worship is for God’s pleasure. Oh sure, we are filled and touched and blessed and fed and strengthened by our Worship. But our Passion, our Worship is directed to God. So, we return to the question, are we giving our ALL.
A. There’s an old old story about a little boy who was standing in the foyer of his church looking at a Memorial Plaque with the names of military men and women engraved on it. Each one had a star next to their name. As he was looking at the plaque, his pastor walked up. The boy turned and said, “Pastor, why do these names have starts next to them?”
The Pastor answered, “Those star represents men and women who’ve died in the Service.”
Eyes big with wonder the boy asked reverently, “Which one, the 8;30 or the 11:00 o’clock service.”
I’ve been to some worship services like that. I’ve probably lead some worship services like that. Nobody bats a thousand. But that’s not my expectation or my intention.
My Expectation is that God will show up; that somehow through my puny efforts, through my warped sense of humor and twisted way of looking at things that God will somehow be present with us in worship. And together, we will encounter the Holy. Together, we will encounter the Risen Christ. Together we will experience the overwhelming love and grace of God in Jesus Christ. And that Grace, that beautifully Amazing Grace will impact our lives in such that it will give us hope, strength, faith and courage to be the people God has called us to be, the people God created us to be.
B. Our God, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, Creator of all that is, was and ever shall be, does not live in Temples built by human hands. But rather God lives in broken human hearts restored, renewed and redeemed by the wounded hands of the Son of God. Those hearts belong to us and in worship we surrender them to God once again.
When we come to Worship, filled with expectancy, filled with the anticipation of encountering the Risen Christ, our worship becomes Passionate. When we come ready to surrender our hearts once again to God, who gives us purpose and identity through his Son, our Worship becomes Passionate. When we come fully anticipating that we will be showered with the grace and the love and mercy of God’s redeeming forgiveness and filled with the hope of life eternal, our Worship becomes Passionate.
And when our Worship is Passionate, it is inviting and so are we. That was one of the points of the movie “Sister Act.”The music and the passion with which they sang was catching and inviting. And people came.
C. A lot of people think it has to do with the STYLE of worship. I’m sorry but it doesn’t. I have been in Contemporary Worship settings, where the service and the music all worked so well together that I was lifted up in ways I can’t describe. And I’ve been in contemporary services that were as flat and as cold as a piece of bologna.
I’ve experienced high church worship, so high you got a nosebleed, with processionals that were awe-inspiring and music that sent chills up my spine and made me feel like I was standing at the very throne majesty of God.
At other times, I’ve seen liturgy that had no power and no connection to the rest of the service, randomly picked like some Russian Roulette of worship planning. The whole service the congregation was simple going through-the-motions as if the door were closed on God’s Spirit.
I’ve heard 90 minute sermons that seemed like 15. And 15 minute sermons that seemed like they were at least a week long.
My point is, I don’t think it’s about Styles of Worship or Forms of Worship. We may prefer a certain style. Studies show that our Spiritual Styles are fed more by certain aspects in Worship but I think at the heart of it all is our Passion for God, our expectations and anticipation of meeting God in worship that makes all the difference.
A. I think Passionate Worship should be Explosive, too. Let me tell you what I mean.
There’s a great story I read from Corinth, Mississippi in the 1960’s. There was an old historic church called the Fillmore Street Presbyterian Church. This church had been in Corinth, Mississippi since the early 1800’s. It had been a church with a great history, but times had changed, demographics had changed, and the Fillmore Street Presbyterian Church had dwindled and dwindled. Sometime in the 1960’s, the congregation made the decision that they couldn’t go on any longer. The remaining members decided to transfer to other congregations, and close the church.
That’s a hard decision to make, but they made it. They also decided they needed one last big day at the church. It would partly be a homecoming, partly a funeral, partly a wake, and it would be a “clean out the closets of the old church” day. All the members were invited to come and take a hymnal or a Bible or something as a souvenir or memento of their lives in that congregation.
Their church wasn’t any different than any other church in the world. It looked like they’d never thrown anything away since it was started in the 1800’s. Down in the basement there were old closets and holes in the wall that no one seemed to even remember. As they were cleaning out one of those old closets that no one had entered in ages, they were startled to discover tons and tons of Confederate Army ordnance. That’s bombs and ammunition.
It seems during the Battle of Shiloh, the confederate armies had used the basement of that church as an ordnance depot, and for over one hundred years, the people of the Fillmore Street Presbyterian Church had been singing, praying, breaking bread, and drinking wine over enough ordnance to blow up the whole town, and they didn’t know it was there. (2)
I think that’s a parable for the church. There’s that kind of power, from God’s Holy Spirit, when God’s people come together expectantly.
You see, this is a place where people can come, no matter what’s going on in their lives and discover the great love and grace of God. This is a place where the deep hurts of life can be healed. This is a place where the heart and soul can be lifted to very throne of God. This is a place we can meet God in Christ Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit
This is a place where we can be inspired to be who God created us to be. This is the place where we can be inspired to follow the one whose love for us never changes. Let Sister Mary Clarence show you how, once again. WATCH
I’m not sure which one of the songs from that movie I like the most, but I do know that we are called to “Follow Him.” There’s great joy and happiness in following Christ. Like the Disciples, as modern day Disciples, we’re called to follow as passionately as they sang. In that Discipleship, we are called to Worship Passionately with Enthusiasm, Expectation, and the knowledge that what we, do can and will have Explosive effects on us and those around us.
Richard Foster said, “As worship begins in Holy Expectancy it ends in Holy Obedience.” Love God with ALL your heart, ALL, soul, ALL your mind and ALL your strength. Be Passionate in your Discipleship and in your Worship.
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord.”
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.