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Where the mist rises from the sea
Where the waves creep upon the shore
Where the wrack lifts upon the strand
I have seen the Lord.
Where the sun awakens the day
Where the road winds on its way
Where the fields are sweet with hay
I have seen the Lord.
Where the stars shine in the sky
Where the streets so peaceful lie
Where the darkness is so nigh
I have seen the Lord.
The Lord is here
The Lord is there
The Lord is everywhere.
The Lord is high
The Lord is low
The Lord is on the path I go.
Landscapes of Light: An illustrated Anthology of Prayers; David Adam
Psalm 84; The Message.
What a beautiful home, God of the Angel Armies!
I’ve always longed to live in a place like this,
Always dreamed of a room in your house,
where I could sing for joy to God-alive!
Birds find nooks and crannies in your house,
sparrows and swallows make nests there.
They lay their eggs and raise their young,
singing their songs in the place where we worship.
God of Angel Armies! King! God!
How blessed they are to live and sing there!
And how blessed all those in whom you live,
whose lives becomes roads you travel;
They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,
discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!
God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and
at the last turn–Zion! God in full view!
God of the Angel Armies, listen:
O God of Jacob, open your ears–I’m praying!
Look at our shields, glistening in the sun,
our faces, shining with your gracious anointing.
One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship,
beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.
I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God,
than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.
All sunshine and sovereign is God,
generous in gifts and glory.
He doesn’t scrimp with his traveling companions.
It’s smooth sailing all the way with God of the Angel Armies.
We know from scripture that two things God requires of us as Christians are prayer and worship. We have been instructed in God’s Word to pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17). As any true prayer warrior will tell you, prayer is two-way communication between God and the person(s) praying.
Too often we deem prayer as only one-way communication, when we talk to God but give Him no opportunity to speak to us. We want what we want, but have not inquired of God what He wants. We make every effort to carry out our plans when in reality, we have not sought God’s direction or His plan for us. We only told God our plans; but did not wait for His answer; perhaps we don’t even want His answer. God has shown me in my Christian walk that He is at perfect liberty to change my plans, no matter how well-thought-out I had initially deemed them to be. When I went through an extended period of unemployment and the uncertainty in my mind was abundant, He let me know that my agenda meant little in light of His perfect plan for me. He taught me to humble myself all over again, and understand that it really isn’t about my limited ability or resources, but His total sufficiency.
The same is true in our worship to God, be it public or private. When we enter into God’s presence in worship, there should be two-way communication, as well. God wants to speak to us in our times of worship. I believe that we can sometimes attempt to “manufacture” God’s presence and His voice in worship. But we must understand that God is perfectly
capable of speaking for Himself. Our job is to listen for His voice (Proverbs 8:34). We speak to God in worship – extolling Him for His greatness, wisdom, care, and love. And just as in our times of prayer, God desires to
speak to us in our times of worship. Before I go any further, please understand that when I use the term “worship”, I am not referring merely to church attendance. Regular church attendance does not make us worshipers.
a church service begs the questions, “Did you worship while you were there?” “Did you go to meet God or just be part of a gathering?”
Not only does God desire sincere prayer, but He insists upon sincere worship as well. In Luke 18:11-13 as the Pharisee prayed thanking God he was not as other men, the tax-gatherer, aware of his own unworthiness, pleaded to God for mercy.
The prayer of the tax-gatherer caught Jesus’ attention because he humbled himself. This was not so for the Pharisee.
In Psalm 51 when David prayed for God to create in Him a clean heart, he states in verse 6, “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts. . .”. The sole criteria God has given us for coming to Him in worship is “in spirit and in
truth” (John 4:23-24). This kind of worship is Holy Spirit-led, and in a manner according to the truth of God’s
Word. God Himself desires to be present today in the middle of our prayers and our worship.
Jesus taught the disciples to pray in Matthew 6:9-13. I find it interesting that The Lord’s Prayer (or The Model Prayer) begins and ends with worship. It begins with “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. . .”. The word “hallow” points toward adoration, or reverence. The prayer ends with “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen.” The kingdom is His, and the power and the glory are His also. Psalm 29:2 tells us to give unto the Lord the glory due His name.
The power of space to change and enhance worship is rarely considered, except perhaps when a building is (or was) being designed by an architect. The space and the furnishing of the place of worship directly impact people’s experience of God’s presence and how they perceive God and one another. The atmosphere, the visuals, the furniture, the spatial distance, the size of the sanctuary, the “look and feel” from inside and out, converge to influence and shape the worshipper’s response to God.
The important feature of Christian worship is that the internal experience of salvation in Jesus Christ, combined with immediate external expressions of this experience, has stamped the use of space in Christian worship with a particular character. Spatial arrangements differ as a result of varying emphases on table fellowship, preaching, baptism, the orders of ministry and gifts, and the sense of body ministry.
Worship in emerging churches as a holistic experience of the saving grace of God is created in part by space. The return of worship to the people, as a work of the people, permits greater use of artistic interpretation, Scripture reading and prayer. In that participatory experience, worshippers acknowledge and celebrate God’s mighty acts of salvation.
Worship is no longer something to be watched or listened to, but something to be done by the people. Thoughtful reconstruction of worship space in sanctuaries constructed many years ago can bring new life and direction to a congregation. Large aisles and larger chancel space allow for greater movement and participation in expressions of worship. Churches that invite people to come forward for prayer, for laying on of hands, and for other kinds of ministry need adequate space for these functions of worship ministry.
New attention is being paid to church architecture. New or refurbished church buildings need to facilitate the relationships of people to one another, renew the holy and allow for appropriate use of artistic symbols, sights and sounds. Above all, the church building must express hospitality and acceptance.
In Romans 12, worship is described as presenting our whole beings to God as living sacrifices because of his grace and mercy. These sacrifices are a spiritual act of worship, sacrifices of ourselves for God’s glory. God reveals Himself to us in worship; we respond to him in joy, praise and thanksgiving. He speaks to us through His Word: the story of His kingdom communicated verbally, visually, spatially and experientially. His Spirit convicts our spirits, hearts, mind and emotions; we are changed; we repent.
God extends his love and mercy to us and in worship, we offer ourselves to him, loving him with all our hearts, all our minds, all our souls and our strength. We experience personal connection, personal healing and personal restoration. We experience joy.
This morning I find that I need a fresh wind, a fresh breath from the Spirit of God. My heart and soul have been stirred for weeks about creating Breathing | Space, and although I have a sense of how to do this, I realize again that only God can do the work, can give the vision, can create the plan and light the way for each step.
As I was reading “The Message” a contemporary translation of the New Testament, Psalm and Proverbs by Eugene Peterson, I realize once again that only God can do this work, and that to run ahead of God is foolhardy.
Let me share some of what I read in Psalm 19 this morning:
The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right, showing the way of joy.
The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree.
God’s Word is better than a diamond,
better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring,
better than red, ripe strawberries.
There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger
and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise, how will we find our way? Or know when we play the fool?
Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!
Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work;
Then I can start this day sun-washed, scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.
I love the visual pictures in this passage… hidden treasure, sun-washed, scrubbed clean, easy on the eyes, start the day fresh.
I choose to start this day fresh, scrubbed clean and sun-washed, believing and trusting God that He will do the work. I can’t take his work over. The work of sharing his love with others is what He calls me to do, but in reality, it is his work. How he will do it through me is his responsibility. I can only be a conduit, allowing the clean, fresh breath of the love of God to flow through me over and into the hearts and souls of others today.
The Breathing | Space alternative worship team will create a once-a-month worship event called breathe | deep. The first event will not be planned or advertised until there are 100-125 active and committed participants / members of Breathing | Space small groups. All who come to be part of this community will be encouraged to pray for and prepare for the first breathe | deep worship event.
The worship gathering will be designed with some of the following elements:
- visual art, imagery in worship
- creative storytelling/teaching about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ
- prayer and meditation stations
- communion – the sacred mystery
- tapestries / wall hangings
- use of technology
- natural elements
- creative writing
- music – vocal and instrumental
This worship event will be created by a team of people who are a part of the Breathing | Space community. Anyone connected with the community will be encouraged to participate in the monthly planning process and bring their gifts, insights and creativity to the planning “table”.