WORSHIP in Christian Formation

19/09/11 12:36 PM

WORSHIP in Christian Formation and Discipleship

“God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24)

Can you describe a worship experience that was the most meaningful for you?

I have had many but one immediately comes to mind. It is the communion and memorial service we held at annual conference in 2006. It was the annual service the conference holds to remember all the saints, clergy and laity, who have died since the last annual conference gathering. The service included the reading of the names of all who have died, and the ringing of the bell for each of them. Family and friends of these dear saints would stand up as their loved one’s name was spoken. The scriptures, the hymns, and the Bishop’s message were all so moving, but none as moving as what we would do last: Holy Communion. As we sang the communion liturgy put to music and written by Pastor Linda Shevlin, tears became to stream down my cheeks. It was the first time I had ever cried in a communion service – I was caught by surprise.

There are many names to the sacrament (Eucharist, The Lord’s Supper, The Mass, Holy Communion), each emphasizing one important aspect of the sacrament. For me, I experienced and understood in that moment a greater power at work during this holy sacrament. I had always “known” that the sacrament of Holy Communion binds us together in Christ, making us “one with God, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world,” but on this day I felt it and, certainly, by God’s grace. God became powerfully present to me in that moment. God’s grace was so overwhelming I could not resist and but cry. I became powerfully aware of the God whom I worship and why I worship Him. I worship in order that I might be brought into the holy presence of God and be formed and transformed by His grace and love.

As a multicultural church, we acknowledge that people experience the presence of God in different ways. For me, it is often through music. When I sing, I feel like the Spirit sings to me and with me. For some it might be through silence, reflection, service, movement, or the spoken word. Believe it or not, there are spiritual types just like there are personality types. As a multicultural church, our greatest challenge is to provide worship that is meaningful to all types. Some like praise music, others like Taize. Some like dancing others like being still. All of it is acceptable to God, for God can take you where you are to shape and to transform you. And, through it all, we are united in the one Spirit.

Debbie O’Driscoll, our Lay Leader, hopes to lead a study to help us understand our spiritual type. I invite you to take advantage of that when it is offered. But, I also invite you to take advantage of the Taize services and the Hope and Healing Services designed to minister with persons moved by these different types of worship. Better yet, let God surprise you when you give it a try.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Shandi

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