This sermon was preached at Blainsport Mennonite church today July 15, 2012.
The theme of my sharing with you is enjoying the Lord in transforming worship. Psalm 24 begins by a declaration of God’s sovereign reign over all the earth.
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it;
For he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers (Ps. 24:1-2)
But the psalm immediately turns to human responsibility and ethics:
“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord”? And who shall stand in his holy place? Those who have clean hands and pure in hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully. (V. 3-4)
The worship of God is joined to human ethical action. What we say about God ought to translate to how we actually live. When this happens, as worshipers of this mighty king, joy flows out of us in God’s presence and we can express that joy with shouts welcoming the “King of Glory.” And just incase we forget, “Who is this king of Glory? The Lord Almighty-he is the king of Glory” says the psalmist.
Example of joyful worship (2 Sam.6:12-16)
Now King David was told, “The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. When those who were carrying the ark of the LORD had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets. As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart. (2 Sam. 6:12-16)
David brought the Ark of the Covenant into Israel’s new capitol, Jerusalem, with a “joyful celebration.” He gave full expression to his joy over God’s covenant faithfulness by dancing on the streets. David perhaps was overwhelm by God’s continual covenant faithfulness to Israel. He had also experienced God’s protection from the claws of bears and wild beasts as a shepherd boy. David was overcome with a joyful celebration, but his expression was not received by approval from everybody in fact a disapproval was expressed.
I wonder whether our churches would be more or less accepting of David or be more like Michal who thought he was doing something below the dignity of his office. Believe it or not, dance can convey a wonderful sense of joyful worship. Of course, different people express joy differently, but either way, joy is something that I think should be a natural part of our Christian lives. We’re meant to enjoy God! In fact this is one of our conference’s core values.
I believe that making cultivating joy a priority—joy in life, joy in service, and joy in worship, joy in mission will lead to greater growth in our churches. Christian worship is intended to be a celebration of God who has come to us in Jesus Christ. At one time or another, most of us have probably experienced the level of joy in our faith that David displayed. But the question is how we maintain a sense of joy—not necessarily a “dancing in the streets” kind of joy, but joy that lasts.
How do we cultivate that kind of sustained joy in our congregation? I think it begins with our understanding of who God is and what God has done for us in Jesus. God is the father of our Lord Jesus Christ and the creator of all that exists. In Jesus God has freed us, adopted us as sons and daughter and has given us an assurance of inheritance to come (cf. Eph. 14-: 10) Joy can also come from serving God in missions since what we say about God ought to be lived out in our own lives.
When we cultivate these aspects of our faith, our very life becomes infused with the joy that comes from God’s grace and mercy. Then we cannot help but be joyful. Then, perhaps, we can live more joyfully in the Lord in spite of the daily realities of our lives.
As the community that enjoys God, we are to bless the neighbor, near or far and live in such a way that contradicts the widespread belief that religious people are mainly interested in judging other people, not blessing them.
“In Christ” we are joined to the power and presence of God. “In Christ” we are knit to others who are suffering in our community and around the world. Part of the community’s calling is to be a living reflection of the God who has called us into being. God chose us in Christ!!
NT. Wright summarizes our relationship with God thus: God has:
1) blessed us in the Messiah (v.3)
2) Chosen us in him (verse 4)
3) Fore ordained us through him (v.5)
4) Poured grace on us in him (v.6)
5) Gave us redemption in him (v.7)
6) Set out his plan in him (v.9)
7) Intending to sum up everything in him (v. 10)
8) We have obtained inheritance in him (v.11)
9) Our hope is in him (v. 12)
10) He has sealed us in him with the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of what
is to come (v. 13-14)
Therefore, in God’s presence we come to worship with the fullness of joy and I pray that that joy continues to show through our lives daily as a witness to the God who has so deeply blessed us.