The Heart of Worship (4) – Worship as Lament

Good Morning and welcome to Worship today.  We’d like to welcome the family and friends of  Dominik Arthur McGregor who is entering into God’s family, the Church, through baptism.  We also welcome the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) students who began their Discipleship Training School (DTS) a few weeks ago.  To others who may be visiting for the first or second time, welcome to you also.

Our Congregation has a vision statement that is:- “Reaching out, changing lives”.  This has motivated many people in the congregation to seek out an active relationship with God and with others (love God, love neighbor – Matt 12:29-31, Matt22:24-40, Luke 10:25-28).  As new people have joined the church we now need to revisit who we are and how we live out our vision and values and how we experience and express our faith and communal life (Growing in Christ & growing together).

Over the next 16months, the Church Council is guiding the congregation through a phase of developing four pillars as part of consolidation and shaping our identity as a Church, our mission and our witness.  The first pillar is Worship and we are in the midst of that journey now.  This week a  group of people (Church Council and congregation) gathered to discuss what Authentic Worship (one of our values) could look like here at Ashmore Uniting Church into 2014.  There will be a Congregational Meeting in November (possibly 17th Nov) to develop this further so that everyone in the congregation has an opportunity for the developing and shaping of our worship pillar.  It’s wonderful to explore what worship means for us at this time of our journey together.

Over the past six weeks, most of our messages have celebrated the joy of worshipping God (‘in spirit and in truth’ John 4:23) and developing our practice of worship into a daily, life-long, living experience  (Andrew’s sermon last week).  Today we will focus specifically on Lament as part of our life long journey of Worship.  We really cannot discuss the subject of worship without touching the issue of lament.  Lament is a ‘natural’ part of our lives, even though we struggle with this aspect of life in our Australian culture and ‘modern world’.

The Book of Psalms, the Psalter or the spiritual hymn book of Israel has 150 Psalms.  Three out of ten psalms are of Lament.  Focusing only on joy then, would not be true to life.  A close examination of the book of Psalms shows that psalms of complaint, confusion, doubt, and heartache significantly outnumber the psalms that focuses on joy.

This indicates to me that when we are being Authentic in our Worship and in our lives we will be able to express our emotional struggles to God as part of our worship, knowing that God will not turn His face away.  “Why, O Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?” (Psalm 88:14).  This is an honest cry from someone in deep pain who is reaching out to a God who ‘has a face’, who is real and is in a relationship with them.  This is not a cry made to a god of stone or a cry into empty space.  This is a God with a FACE.  (I know some people who cry out to the ‘latest god with a FACE’ – that god is face-book.)  I believe that God delights in our passionate engagement with Him, and what He longs for is that all His children BE REAL with Him.

This week has been Mental Health Week 7-13 October.  Our focus on Lament has been a deliberate part of our honesty and integrity to share in Authentic Worship today.

May you be ‘honest to God’ in your pain and struggles…this week….seek His face through His Book, the Bible.

Rev. Brad Foote

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