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May 16, 2013

Gathering to worship

Pella —

This week I’d like to expand on my discussion of chapter 4 from the gospel of John, and for the next few installments of this column our subject will be worship.  It’s interesting how many different opinions there are out there about worship.  And most of us will be attending a “worship service” this Sunday, so it’s important for us to understand what it means to worship!
Perhaps it would be helpful for us to look at a conversation Jesus had with someone on this subject.  In John chapter 4, Jesus was talking to a woman who was confused about worship.  She was a Samaritan woman, and in her conversation with Jesus, she said:  “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
It’s interesting to me that it was the woman who brought up the subject of worship.  In her conversation with Jesus, her lifestyle was revealed.  This was a woman who had experienced much pain and discouragement in her life, and in fact was coming to the well at a time when no one else would be there because she was ashamed of who she was and was afraid of the ridicule of others.  Yet, she was asking Jesus about worship.  To me, this shows she was a “seeker”!  She was desperately seeking a connection with God!  But she was missing that connection because she got hung up on how and where worship should take place….sound familiar?
How easily conflict arises out of disagreements over the style of worship and the type of music we use to express our worship to God.  You know, “We believe a worship service should be done this way, but they do it that way!” Or, “They sing those types of songs, but we believe only this kind of music should be sung in church!”  It’s interesting that folks will defend the traditions of singing only the great hymns of the Church, not realizing that those great hymns were blasted when they were introduced because many of them were written to popular bar tunes of the day!  Even the latest version of the King James Bible was considered heretical because it was a rewrite of an earlier version, but today many consider it the only translation to use because it’s a traditional version.  Folks, we need to understand that everything that is now traditional was once contemporary!  Did you get that?

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