Posts Tagged 'worship'

Advent Conspiracy: Worship Fully

Advent Conspiracy: Worship Fully Sermon Audio Here

Luke 1:46-50

NOTE: This sermon is from I’ve adapted it for my own preaching style, but the content is not mine. I’m grateful to the good people at Advent Conspiracy for helping the Church look at Advent in a different way.

To help us make sense of the Scripture, remember: Mary is young, poor, pregnant out of wedlock, hiding in an obscure hill town which is currently occupied by a foreign power. She is living in utter obscurity. She has no reason to be beside herself with joy towards God. She is of humble estate and yet here she is… flooded with joy, over flowing with gratitude, so much that she burst into song as her spirit soars. WHY?

Why “Worship Fully”?

Because God Sees Us ~ Luke 1:46-48

  • When you know the Divine sees you, your deepest inner person, your soul is touched, and you can’t help but Worship Fully. You can say things like Mary said; “from now on, from this moment on, people will call me blessed. Holy is his name.”
  • The reason for this worshipful response is that the souls deepest longing is to be seen and known. (1 Cor. 13:12)
  • => a little kid: “hey hey hey hey hey!” look at them, and they’re good

We Long To Be Seen ~ Genesis 16:13

  • She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
  • It’s why celebrity is so intoxicating. These people are seen so we think they must matter. I need to be seen to matter. On top of this need to be seen, our culture can breed isolation which just compounds our loneliness and can feed our despair at not being seen.

In the book Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, the author Dave Eggers captured this sentiment early in the days of reality TV, as his main character writes in to MTV to be on “The Real World.”

Dear Producers,
Something is radiating deep within me and it must be transmitted or
I will implode and the world will suffer a great loss, unawares. Epic
are the proportions of my soul, yet without a scope who cares who
I am? This is why I must but must be one of the inhabitants of MTV’s
“Real World.” Only there, burning brightly into a million dazzled
eyes, will my as yet uncontoured self assume the beauteous forms
that are not just its own, but an entire market niche’s, due.
I am a Kirk Cameron-Kurt Cobain figure, roguishly quirky, dandified
but down to earth, kooky but comprehensible; denizen of the growing penumbra between alternative and mainstream culture; angsty prophet of the already bygone apocalypse, yet upbeat, stylish and sexy!
Oh MTV, take me, make me, wake me from my formless slumbers
and place me in the dreamy Real World of target marketing.

  • God sees Mary not because of her looks, her intellect, her status, her importance. God looks and sees her in her humble estate, her obscurity.

When We Know God Sees Us, We Worship ~ Luke 1:49-50

  • After she sees and experiences this for her own life she says, trust in God, “from generation to generation”.
  • 51-55: she focuses on not what she has done, or even that she is seen. Her focus goes back to what GOD has done!

This is the story of Christmas, that God has seen us, and that He sees those in need. This is why we as a church have chosen to celebrate Christmas this year by worshipping fully the God who sees and loves us and in response, see and love those that are in need around us and around the world.



Our church had its Harvest Party for 2012, and of course, a lot of kids came to the party dressed up in costume. I ran the photo booth, and it occurred to me that I could digitally drop these kids in costumes into backgrounds that would fit their persona.

So, I’ve been GIMPing kids into various backgrounds off and on for the past couple of days; I really wanted to get this finished before Thursday (my sermon-writing day).

As I’ve been working with backgrounds for three days, it reminds me of a very powerful song. It’s called, appropriately enough, “Background”. I’d strongly encourage you to watch this YouTube video, so that you can catch the lyrics as well as hear the music.

Word of warning: the artist, Lecrae, is a rap artist, so there are a LOT of lyrics in this song. However, I’ve seen him do this twice before a live audience, and it was a powerful worship experience both times. Even if you’re not a fan of rap music, please put that aside, and consider these words. (If you absolutely must, you could mute the music, and just read the lyrics, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice.)

Grace and Peace to you as you seek to put Jesus first!

KFJ – Ed

Prayer: Psalm 118, sung and spoken

Preoccupation with the Point

Here I am, wanting to write a blog entry, and I get sidetracked as to what I want to TITLE it before I’ve written one word of the actual blog. Perhaps that’s indicative of something else going on inside me: preoccupation with titles, words, namings…

You see, I read an article this morning that was written by a fairly well known Christian author, one whose name is connected with the post-modern/emergent movement in the US. He had some interesting things to say about worship, and the need for a different focus. He mentions his frustration with the “me and Jesus” theme which runs through so much of current worship (especially the “me” part), and calls for new worship music with the following themes:
1. Biblical pictures of God’s preferred future – HOPE
2. Kingdom of God priorities – MISSION
3. Historic Christian spirituality – DEPTH
4. God as primary focus – THEOCENTRIC
5. Songs expressing sorrow that we experience – LAMENT

That’s the recap of the article, and while I enjoyed reading it, it was a little surreal. You see, I’ve been saying these things to Jami for years, and working them out in the songs I sing for private worship. I enjoy writing music, but I’m not a big fan of my own lyrics. I appreciate much more going through old hymnals and looking for lyrics that strike me in some way and then writing new music for the older words. I even had a website for a term I thought I’d coined: Convergent Worship (I’ve since let it go).

The point of this: it was a bit weird to see my thoughts that I’d been working through for so long in print by this other author. I find it comforting to know that I’m not the only one that has been grappling with these issues. In a moment of transparency, I’ll also admit that it’s a bit frustrating that I wasn’t able to get those same thoughts “out there” for others to work with years ago. Jami has teased me on more than one occasion that the next time I see a “trend” that I think the Church will be dealing with in the next ten years, that I need to write a book about it first before anyone else…!

Last night, a group of musicians got together at my church to jam. Note that we didn’t get together to rehearse; there was no set music, no specific agenda other than to enjoy one another’s company and to perhaps stretch our musical muscles a bit. Since most of us who gathered are pretty “churched”, the songs we used to start things off were worship songs (hence the preoccupation with themes of worship today). I think we could take this little group and incorporate it into Sunday morning worship with a few more rehearsals. But the point of the group isn’t to specifically create something to ADD to Sunday morning services.

The POINT of worship, the REASON for worship is God.

That’s it.


Creating additional worship elements for the congregation misses the point entirely. All of us – musicians, lay leaders, pastors, choir members, and people in the congregation – are to be working together to craft worship for GOD, not for our own benefit. Of course as we worship, as we lift up God and reaffirm the Lord’s place on the throne of the Universe (and our own lives), we *will* benefit from it… but receiving the benefit isn’t the point.

*God* is the point.

As Jami and I prepare for the annual meeting of the National Association of Congregationalist Christian Churches, the two of us will be leading one of the main sessions of worship on Monday morning. I want to be sure that we are not the focus of that worship service; that GOD alone receives the worship, praise, attention, focus, adoration.

In the words of the Reformers: Soli Deo Gloria!

Pastor Ed Backell

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