The Church exists to increase awareness of God’s presence and to celebrate God’s love.
Some key questions that have guided us
What motivates us to study the Bible?
What would help our worship to make sense to people who come only occasionally?
Can we improve the comfort and decor of our surroundings and the welcome for people with disabilities?
Is our worship much the same all the time?
Looking back at 2016-2017
Our worship has been closely linked with our small groups and the overall theme for the Church year of Whole Life worship. In addition a focus linked to the minister’s Sabbatical (May-July 2016) on Celtic Christianity has introduced Celtic forms of worship and prayer. A leaflet providing basic guidance on the format of morning worship has been produced for visitors, and an agreed format for PowerPoint slides is being put together to provide consistency and to help those with limited vision. A worship consultation group has been established that meets quarterly to discuss issues to do with worship and to plan patterns of Sunday worship on both sites. A new ramp provides access to the worship area at Western Road, which now has an accessible toilet with baby changing facilities.
A definition of Whole Life Worship
Expressing our love for God when reminded of God’s Love for us –
with every part of our being and in every part of our life
Some of the key teaching themes through the year
September Worship with the Whole of our Being – With heart and soul and mind and strength (Mark 12:30) What seems to be a reading about our love for God, our neighbour and ourselves is in fact a reading about our worship, since worship is one of the ways we express our love.
The Benedictine Rule of life has, as you might expect, Prayer and Bible Study, but also includes
Work (Times of physical and mental work, with opportunities to do good, care for others and be creative) Renewal (Time set apart to worship, have fun, develop a hobby, rest, relax in God’s love and enjoy the creative beauty of God’s world) and Hospitality (Time to be with others, to welcome and share with others)
October Sharing with others (Acts 2:42-46) – The disciples spent their time ‘in close fellowship’ a) Learning from each other b) taking part, participating not passive c) sharing in meals and prayer – equally important c) sharing their resources, particularly with those in need, and they did this not just on Sundays but ‘day after day’
November and December – see below with ‘Follow Me – Mark’ material
January NUNI (Not up not in – GOLF advice) – To win the race we must first run the race (James 2:14,17 & 24 and Hebrews 11:1) The Covenant Prayers involve a commitment to actively take part, to act, to live out our faith – not just to repeat familiar words.
February Worship through Service – Our service of others is part of our whole life worship. Alongside our own unique calling we help and equip others to play their part in the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:12 – ‘He did this to prepare all God’s people for the work of Christian service, in order to build up the body of Christ.’
March – see below
April Easter Message – When did Christ rise for you. The bible tells us when and where Jesus rose for Mary and Peter (on Easter Day in a garden), for Thomas (a week later in an upper room) , for Saul/Paul ( some time later on the Damascus Road), but when did Jesus become a living reality in your life? John 20:7, 28, 1 Corinthians 15: 8
May Whole life Worship is at all times and seasons – There is a specific time for everything ( Ecclesiastes 3), and we need to recognise when the time is right – but every time is/should be a time for worship.
June Pentecost Message – The Wind of the spirit
The spirit comes to us in different ways– a) as a strong driving wind (Acts 2), to shake us up, break off dead wood( natural pruning), move us on out of our comfort zone b) as a gentle refreshing breeze (John 20)a sense of being loved, finding peace, comfort, joy in the midst of fear.
but there is also c) a prevailing shaping wind gradually guiding us into all truth , shaping us recreating us, over time, to be more Christ like.
July Whole life awareness – In an age of drones, growing CCTV surveillance and smart phone apps that tell others where we are, we may feel the need to have some privacy, and protect ourselves from those who would misuse this information. But we can’t hide from God and nor should we, we are safe with him – he loves us even though he knows us completely. In fact we should acknowledge his presence and knowledge of us more openly than we do. (Psalm 139)
August From Cradle to Grave… and beyond – Worship is for the whole of life, for all ages and it continues after we die. ‘I’ll praise my maker while I’ve breath and when my voice is lost in death praise shall employ my nobler powers’ – Isaac Watts – HYMN 79 (Singing the Faith)
Follow me Mark – Whole life Worship is a life of discipleship in which we follow Jesus and apply his teaching to our living. We looked at the following key passages from Mark’s Gospel in two series of five weekly meetings.
1. A wake up call – Mark 1:1-8 – A call to action and real repentance
2. A battle to be fought – Mark 1:21-27, 4:35-41 – Living under the authority of Jesus
3. A place to be – alone – Mark 1:35, 6:30-32 – The need to pray and rest
4. The wider family – Mark 3:31-35 – Caring for each other as part of the family of the church
5. Scattered Seed – Mark 4:3-9, 13-20 – Taking every opportunity to share the good news
6. Lip Service – Mark 7:1-13 – Don’t let (religious) traditions get in the way.
7. What do you say? – Mark 8:27-30 – Find opportunities to say what you believe helpfully
8. What must be – Mark 8:34-38 – Suffering is part of what it means to follow Jesus
9. A Baptism of fire – Mark 10:33-45 – Baptism involves suffering service as well as blessing
10. The most important – Mark 12:28-34 – Whole life worship is to love with all our being….
Some further questions to consider in the coming months
What helps us to centre our worship on God?
Where and when do we feel the presence of God?
How can these experiences enrich services of worship?
What helps us to express awe and wonder, thankfulness and praise, and love towards God?
How can we (further) explore styles and traditions of worship from other denominations and other parts of the world and better use these resources?