Monday, March 10, 2014

5 TakeAways for Great Christian Worship

Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting with 44 incoming members of our Concordia congregational family.  Along with 13 of their children, this is the first new member class of 2014.  Over the six weeks we are together, the pastoral staff overviews the doctrine and practice of our Lutheran congregation.  The first two weeks are dedicated to worship.  I wanted to share with you what I shared with these new friends of ours.

1.  Remember that worship and worship services are two very different things.  This may sound odd, but the distinction is terrifically important.  Our Lutheran identity is built on the conviction that just because we go through the motions, worship may yet not be happening.  Jesus spoke the tough words, "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."  We want to ensure that the worship of our hearts is true above all else.

2.  Put to memory the words of Psalm 46:10--"Be still and know that I am God."  This verse is the foundation of our worship aspirations at  Concordia.  Life is hectic.  Worship should be exactly opposite.  In worship we find rest and peace and quiet,  blessed assurance that God has reconciled himself to us through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Not just once each week, but every day our goal is to recline in the rest-filled embrace of the eternal God and Father of us all.

3.  Simply celebrate you faith in Jesus Christ--true and real worship.  Here's a deep lesson that builds on #1, above.  Worship that God esteems above all else is the faith which says Jesus is the world's savior from sin.  If worship is that action/activity by which we give God our highest praise, take this as an important reminder:  God's greatest glory is the giving of his Son for our sins.  Faith in that merciful provision brings greater glory than any hymn or song, any emotion or prayer.  So, when you are low or down or out or up and high and filled with joy, remember that the still quiet voice of faith in your heart is greater than all of that.

4.  Look around and behold your faith-filled family.  The Christian church is diverse and conducts worship with many forms, voices and instruments.  But those divisions are insignificant when we realize that we are gathered by faith in God's Son.  Certainly, every aspect of a worship service should lend itself to creating and sustaining faith.  Certainly, that faith comes through Word and Sacrament--the means of creating faith.  But it is the common, catholic (i.e., universal) faith that trusts Christ for mercy that I am talking about.  Check out Romans 10:14-17.

5.  Finally, commit yourself to regularly deepening your roots in Christian worship.  Faith always needs an object to anchor itself to.  That object is Jesus Christ offered through the Word preached and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper administered according the way God instituted it.  If you want great worship (faith in your heart), then make great worship services (Christ-centered) a necessary part of your weekly lifestyle.

That was week one...with the Pastors Newell and Meggers I'll keep you posted on the next five weeks.


Pastor Seidler

Rev. Dr. Scott K. Seidler
Senior Pastor
Concordia Lutheran Church
Kirkwood, Missouri

Sent from one of my idevices

Monday, March 3, 2014

5 Keys to a Disciplined Lent

Lent marks the season of 40 days before Easter.  Christians have the opportunity to "be still" and consider well the critical events of Christ's death offered in exchange of our guilt and shame.  Typically in the Church's history, Christians sacrifice something, too.  Roman Catholics forego meat on Fridays which makes for marvelous fish fries all around.  More protein-passionate Protestants might give up soda/pop/cola, depending on what region of the country you inhabit.  Chocolate, sweets, alcohol and fast food are there as well.

On the other side stand the protesting Protestants who "take on" some discipline that is not normally a habit for them.  An intentional schedule of daily prayer, bible reading or act of service is typical.

All that said, here are my 4 keys to a well-disciplined Lent, regardless of what you stop or start.

1.  Keep the good news at the center.  Approximating the sacrifice of Jesus through your sacrifice of what-not is admirable.  But, if the focus is on the discipline and not the reason for it, the discipline has lost all value.

2.  Make it communal,  not individual.  I think this is why fish fries among our Roman Catholic friends are so wildly popular.  It's a big party (and usually a good fundraiser!).  And who doesn't like that?!  Share your discipline in your Christian home or your circle of friends.

3.  Change it up from year to year.  Stop something this year.  Start something next.  Physical today.  Spiritually-oriented later.

4.  Of any discipline you can contrive, regularity in worship is always the most important.  Gathering around the story and the meal and the fellowship of the Church is the foundation stone of faith.  Every other self-generated discipline is sinking sand.  Before any other discipline is brought online in your life, make every weekend worship foremost.

Now...I have a couple days left to figure out what I am going to do...