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Archive for Saturday, June 26, 2004

Faith forum

Services at my house of worship don’t move me spiritually. What are my options?

June 26, 2004

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True worship is focused on God

The Rev. Paul Gray, senior pastor, Heartland Community Church, 619 Vt.:

This question indicates the writer is focused on himself rather than on God.

If our purpose is to worship God, then our mindset is to focus on him, give him praise, thanks, respect and glory that only he deserves.

Therefore we can and should worship God 24-7 in nature, at work, school and everywhere. Worship doesn't just mean singing and reciting creeds. It means having an attitude of focusing on God and giving him first place in our lives.

But if our focus is on ourselves, we will be looking for a "worship service" that has music and rituals that make us feel good. Then we will move from church to church to find a "more exciting worship leader," a "more dynamic speaker" or a "better set of rituals."

It's very important for us to find a church in which we fit, are loved and accepted, have opportunities for great community, can serve in meaningful ways and receive accurate Biblical instruction. It's equally important to have a biblically functioning community that has a vision, mission and purpose consistent with that which God has given you. There you can truly worship God.

In the Bible, Romans 1:21 says people "knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused."

True worship is focused on God and giving him thanks -- not being "moved" ourselves. It's all about God, not us.

- Send e-mail to the Rev. Paul Gray at hartland@sunflower.com.




Learning to listen to message is key

The Rev. Charles Polifka, pastor, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 1234 Ky.:

A parishioner recently shared a story about himself. When he got back from the Army years ago, he hadn't come to church for a while, and when he did, he found it totally boring.

Then he and his wife went to a marriage encounter weekend. He learned new listening skills for his marriage, and he began to "hear" in new ways.

He now comes weekly to participate in church services. Each week, he hears something that helps him to deepen his spiritual life.

That is one option: Learn to listen.

Preachers and ministers take the responsibility to preach the word of God seriously. How we listen to their message, and how we listen to the prayers and readings that surround the message, is key to finding "meaning" and satisfaction in the service.

Two other issues are important.

First, the reason for being at a religious service is not to "get" but to "give." As believers in a loving, creating God, I am present with the community to praise, worship, thank and give glory. It is a moment of unselfishness. The community and I join in recognizing the power and glory of God. To say that the "services" at my house of worship do not "move" me is to miss the point of "service."

The second issue is involvement. Involvement in worship, whether singing, reading, welcoming or any other worship ministry, and involvement in outreach ministries -- whether cleaning or feeding the hungry or providing transportation -- makes one connected to the community. The more connection with our worshipping and serving community, the more meaningful is the connection with God.

It is amazing what we hear and what we feel when we come together in a place of worship to serve rather than to be served.

Church makes sense.

- Send e-mail to the Rev. Charles Polifka at cpolifka@saint-johns.net.

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