Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2005
Title] Lord of Our Worship
Text] Matthew 4:10; Psalm 95:6,7; 99:9; Revelation 4:8-11;Genesis 2:1-4;1 Chronicles 16: 8-36; John 4: 23,24;Psalm 47; 63: 1-4; 149:3; 150; Acts 2: 46,47
[Use]September 10, 2005
Worship took on a new dimension this past weekend in congregations across the Gulf States region of the United States. Maybe you saw the pictures on CNN Sunday Morning with Wolf Blitzer. Church members gathered together in Mississippi on the concrete slab at the place where their churches used to stand. Some churches hadn’t located their pastor yet but made worship happen anyway without him or her.
The congregants weren’t dressed in suits, ties and fancy dresses. Many of the members fled from their homes with little more than what they had on their backs or could carry with them. The important thing this particular morning was that they were together, giving thanks and singing praises to the Lord of their Worship who saved them--again. The time of worship allowed them to come together to share one another’s burdens and encourage one another as they face what lies ahead.
In the Adventist community of faith, the path of hurricane-force winds left 22 churches and one Academy obliterated or in shambles. One church building was in the direct path of the levy that broke in New Orleans. Church buildings recently erected no long exist. An estimated 7,000 Adventist church members are displaced. The death toll is yet unknown.
Conference personnel in the Southwestern Union immediately called pastors, asking them to find out the condition of their own church members. Websites were established where members could list the names of lost loved ones as well as where the lost could notify family members (if safe) and indicate where they have temporarily relocated. Approximately 1/3 of the members and 1/3 of the clergy in the Southwest Regional and Arkansas Louisiana Conferences will not be able to return to their homes.
An estimated 230,000 survivors were evacuated to the state of Texas. Adventists throughout the state opened their fellowship halls and homes as places of refuge. One member is housing 42 refugees in his house and a few trailers he owns. In place of a church potluck at a Houston Adventist church, members are gearing up to assist in feeding 1,000 meals per day to Americans at the Astrodome.
On Sunday morning in the Astrodome singing broke out as some of the people lifted their voices in hymns and children played with a ball at their feet. It was time to worship and sing “Jesus Saves” and “Amazing Grace” and other hymns of praise. It didn’t matter the denominational affiliation. The important thing was that they knew the One to whom they were lifting their voices in song.
In large cities pastors and church members are banding together using their area-wide coordination to deliver the basic necessities and a fresh change of clothing to the evacuees, some whose only covering in some instances was a trash bag. It is not important who gets credit for what they are doing or what one church’s advantage is over another. The mission of every volunteer is to work together to handle the enormity of the influx of people in need. As one volunteer packing “comfort kits” for the displaced Americans on Sabbath afternoon said, “What would Jesus do?”
Dead churches are coming back to life as they work together. Controversy and power struggles are taking a back seat to meeting theimmediate needs of those coming into their community whose lives havebeen traumatized by Mother Nature.
Jesus didn’t need a church building to gather people together for worship. Wherever He went, God’s kingdom was His theme. Maybe it has taken a national crisis to open our eyes to see what a dying world looks like and the needs of those around us that only Jesus can meet. How much time have we wasted arguing about the preferred style of worship or whether a particular song or instrument should be allowed in our churches?!
In our lesson text of John 4 we are reminded that Jesus didn’t isolate Himself from “undesirables”. He met their needs—even on the Sabbath. He built a verbal bridge with a thirsty woman, giving her something more than water to drink. We have opportunities all around us to do the same.