Thought for the Month (November 2011)
Hawkenbury, Rusthall and Tunbridge Wells all have beautiful and worthy places of worship, and technically you could worship in all three on a Sunday morning. Start at Rusthall at 9.30 but don't stay for that lovely cup of coffee, and arrive late at Hawkenbury for 10.30. Tunbridge Wells starts worship at 11 o'clock, and you could enjoy a cup of tea or coffee with a chat to friends afterwards.
For me, public worship is probably one of the best things about being a Christian. It's lovely to meet friends there and exchange news. Especially, it is our opportunity to give God our undivided attention in worship, prayer and praise. I miss this opportunity if I am ill or away on holiday. There are not many occasions other than these two that I have not come into God's House to pray.
I remember vividly my first weeks in Kerala, S. India, and especially going to church. I was among friends and the singing was good. (Sometimes they would whisper – 'You know this hymn, it's English', but it would be a Moody and Sankey song that I didn't know – 'Praise Him, Praise Him, Jesus our blessed Redeemer', or 'Count your blessings'.) The little church at Attingal on the roadside of the National Highway 47 had a beautiful stained glass window. I was told this had come from Switzerland and was just colours, not a picture. Beautiful to look at while trying to worship in a foreign language! But God added his bonus. Outside and growing up to the window was a bright pink bougainvillea vine. The colours of the window were so enhanced by the colour of the bougainvillea that I added an extra Hallelujah!
I think we all had some doubts when modernisation of our buildings was mentioned, but for me the worship has been much enhanced, for instance by different colours of chairs, but especially the screen with the hymn words on. I can hold on to the chair in front to balance, look up at the words and really sing to praise God.
I do have one problem with some of the hymns! Because it is public worship when a lot of us are singing together, I enjoy hymns that talk about us – not I. When I was learning to lead public worship I was advised to avoid the personal "I" hymns, but at the moment it becomes increasingly difficult to choose hymns that include all of us. Some of our lovely hymns and songs can easily be changed to the plural and I often do this when I am worshipping at morning worship. Of course, when I use them devotionally at my prayer time, then I delight to say "I", since I'm on my own.
When Solomon, King David's son, dedicated the Temple in Jerusalem, he asked – "But will God really dwell on earth with men? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple that I have built." II Chron. 6.v.18. Read on to discover how wonderful is a public worship centre for God's people. "Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place" – he goes on. In Chapter 7, it says "When Solomon finished praying, fire consumed the sacrifice, and the glory of the Lord filled the Temple."
Without the need to offer sacrifices, the glory of the Lord fills our small temples, our churches where we can gather together to worship and praise God. What a privilege! I hope I meet you there.
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