Worship as we do?
UP - The Most Holy Place
OUR FOCUS IS THE LIVING GOD
When we gather together to worship and pray, our primary focus is not each other or the watching world. Our primary focus is the Living God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit - together with all the angels, saints and worship of the heavenly realms.
We gather together around our Great High Priest, the Chief Choirmaster – and He leads us in worship. Jesus is the Divine Worship Leader of all church gatherings, all over the world, in every age.
As the oil of the Spirit pours down from the Father onto the head of Christ, so the oil of the Spirit pours down onto His Body, the Church family.
As we consciously gather around Christ Jesus, so He leads us into the Father’s presence and gives us life through the Spirit.
Even the basic layout of our church building/room should reflect aspects of the Tabernacle - including our artwork.
The LORD God flooded the world in Noah's day because of the imaginations of human hearts - and so, it is vital that we fill our imaginations with better patterns and structures. The use of a communion rail helps to divide up the room in a gentle Tabernacle pattern.
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
The Living God is the Maker of Heaven and Earth. That is one of the most common titles for the LORD God throughout the Bible – and it is linked to an amazing variety of implications. When we gather around Jesus Christ at the centre of the church “camp”, He turns us towards the Kingdom of Heaven that flows down from the Father’s throne.
The Kingdom of Heaven is the administration of the whole creation – from the Father through Jesus in the power of the Spirit. Just as the Tabernacle was a structured, measured and ordered model of the universe, full of meaning, life, variety, and purpose – so the whole creation itself is structured, measured, ordered and full of meaning, life, variety and purpose. Overseen and managed by the hundreds of millions of angels sent from the Father’s throne, the whole creation receives life, joy and purpose from Jesus who is filled with the Spirit of Life.
JESUS AT THE CENTRE
When Jesus is at the centre as the King of God’s Kingdom, leading us to the Father, then the whole of created life makes sense. When Jesus leads us then our money, clothing, leisure, sexuality, desires, bodies, food, homes and work all take on a proper perspective, filled with more life and meaning. When we place ourselves or any other creature at the centre, then the whole creation falls out of perspective and we find ourselves running against the natural order – giving to money, sex, desire, food, home and work purposes and expectations that they cannot deliver.
So, when we gather for worship together, the great goal is that we get a right perspective: Jesus as the King of the Kingdom of Heaven, taking us to our Heavenly Father, with the life of the Spirit pouring down from the Head to the Body.
We turn away from ourselves and the busy noise of the present moment in order to join with the cosmic worship that Christ Jesus always leads – the worship of the Living God from all the stars and planets, the trees and flowers, the angels and archangels, the mountains and oceans, the saints and martyrs of every age.
Our worship and prayer is for our Heavenly Father, through Jesus in the power of the Spirit. We turn to Jesus who leads us to the Father in the power of the Spirit.
First and foremost, it is not about US in our gatherings, but how we love and worship, hear and obey, repent and trust. Jesus is the centre of attention and He leads us in worship, through His Word and Spirit. That is why church gatherings are an incredible expression of life in all its fullness.
VERTICAL NOT HORIZONTAL
When we gather together as a church family on a Sunday at St Crispin’s the primary direction of our attention is vertical not horizontal. The truth is that we find our true home and identity when we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness. When we gather on Thursdays for extended prayer, then we spend more time praying for one another.
We are set free to serve one another with genuine love from the heart when we love the LORD with all our heart, strength and mind.
REDIRECTING OUR MINDS TO HEAVENLY REALITIES
The Word of God very directly engages with all our concerns about life and death, families and work, sex and money, power and politics, bodies and desires, shame and guilt… YET, always the first priority is to turn us around so that we are facing towards the Father through Jesus in the power of the Spirit rather than facing towards our problems, anxieties and sins. Repentance is turning our lives around – from the creature to the Creator; from cucumbers to Christ [as the great matters of life are framed in the book of Numbers!].
In the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, Christians pray with their whole bodies: kneeling down, lying face down, raising their hands and heads to the heavens etc. They light candles, burn incense, wear sack cloth, put ashes on their heads, fast, feast, sing, shout, dance, weep, wail and stay up all night to seek the LORD. When we turn ourselves to our Father in heaven we must not be afraid to use every one of our senses and our whole bodies. We are not just minds that think, but we have hearts that feel, bodies that taste, touch, see, hear and smell. Our Living God is the Maker of heaven and earth… not an intruder into His own creation! Every physical thing belongs to Him and everything in our bodies was designed to bring us nearer to our Father through Jesus in the power of the Spirit.
For these reasons at St Crispin’s we want the place where we gather to be more than just an “ordinary” room. It is a space that has a certain structure, order and life to it. The imagery on the walls needs to be more than random images or “bumper sticker slogans”. Our images should be part of this vision of re-directing our hearts and minds to the heavenly reality, to the communion of the saints, to the real nature of the heavens and the earth. In addition, the basic structure of the room could/should reflect something of the lay-out of the Tabernacle so that - as long as we regularly teach the structure of the Tabernacle – the very layout of the room will be forming our hearts and minds to the pattern of the Bible itself.
When we give our hearts and minds to the Living God, we find life. When we forget our own lives and turn to the Author of Life… then He gives us the life we need. When we follow Jesus to the Cross, He takes us into Resurrection.