Dear Church Family
Last Sunday I spoke across the day on 'The Priority of Worship.' (If you missed it and want to catch up, click here to listen). Worship is our first calling - to live for the glory of God - so it's helpful to begin a new year by choosing to make the worship of our good God our priority and desire. I've been spending some time recently reflecting on the church in Antioch which appears a number of times in the Bible, especially in the Acts of the Apostles. In Acts 13 we're given a glimpse into what happened when they gathered together. This is a church characterised by prophecy and teaching (v1) and it seems they valued ‘worshipping the Lord’ (v3). The Greek word used for worship here is the word ‘leitourgeo’ which means to publicly serve in worship before God. It’s the word used to translate the work of the Levitical priests in the Old Testament. Given this is what the whole church in Antioch was doing, it reminds us that as New Testament believers we are all called to serve before the Lord in this way, not just a chosen few as was the case for the priests in the Old Testament, and that our offerings of worship are sweet and pleasant to the Lord.
When we worship we’re showing our appreciation of God. We tell him how much we value him and give our thanks for all he’s done and is continuing to do. We acknowledge that he is God, not us. We recognise that we belong to him, having been purchased by the death of Jesus and filled with his life-giving Spirit. We humble ourselves before him, lifting him high. For he is worthy. No-one deserves worship more than him. For there is no-one like him. When we truly worship we become truly human, because we were made to worship. As such worship is not about servile duty but heart-felt devotion. It’s an expression not of obligation but of adoration. Not of law but of love.
At The Belfrey we love to worship. On our own. In our Belfrey Groups. In our congregations. Fixing our eyes on Jesus and giving him our adoration is basic to who we are and what we do. The Lord deserves all our praise and worship! As we worship, we are changed. Changed to become like the One we worship for, as Tom Wright says, 'You become like what you worship. When you gaze in awe, admiration, and wonder at something or someone, you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship.' Worship leads to transformation.
As we seek to be a church serving God's transformation of the North, may 2018 be a year that we grow together in our worship of God. And as we worship, may we and all who join us be changed to become more like our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.
PS. In St Michael le Belfrey Church this Sunday and next Sunday will be copies of a booklet entitled 'Overflow'. It gives details of some of our plans for the year ahead. Please do read this as we prepare and pray for the year ahead. And watch out for more on this theme of overflow in the coming weeks.