Nineveh Presbyterian Church
|PO Box 115 Nineveh New York 13813|
The Holy Spirit in you - New Testament Worship Services
A message, from our Pastor - Emrys Tyler, regarding our worship services on three Sundays in July
Listen to Pastor Emrys' teaching on these events:
The pastor's pasture -
The Spirit in You - New Testament Worship Services
As I announced on Sunday, July 19th, the Worship Committee has decided to try an experiment in July. We're going to see what the Spirit does in our congregation when we don't plan the content of our worship services in advance.
We're taking a cue from Paul's first letter to the Church at Corinth, chapter 14, verses 26 to 33. It's the only place in the New Testament where we get a hint of what it might have looked like when early Christians gathered together on the Lord's Day (Sunday). When Paul writes to the Corinthians, he is trying to solve two problems in their life together; competition and chaos. The Spirit has arrived with such power among the Corinthians that there are many in the gathering who have the gift of speaking in tongues, many who can prophecy, many who can sing hymns, and many who can offer words of wisdom to the Church. The problem is that they had begun to compete with each other for who's got the greatest gifts of the Spirit.
What's more, in their time together, everyone is trying to exercise his or her gift of the Spirit at the same time. Prophecies and tongues and teachings are overlapping, so not everyone in the gathering can hear what each has to say in the Spirit. It's become chaos. So Paul says: each of you should have a chance to deliver what the Spirit has given to you, one at a time, so that everyone can hear and be edified by what you have to say. This is the origin of Paul's phrase (verse 40): "everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way."
We, in the Presbyterian tradition, like order. We like structure, predictability and centralized control over worship. We have taken Paul's instruction for "fitting" and "orderly" ways to the extreme. The only thing that could bring chaos to our worship services is the release of a wild squirrel during the Gloria Patri.
What we may sacrifice by worship, that is planned by one or two people every Sunday, is the sense that each of us has the Holy Spirit within, for the building up of the whole Church. Most of us listen (to a sermon, for instance), follow someone else's words (like the prayer of confession), and join in prayers silently for someone else's joys and concerns. Rarely is a space made in a worship service for any brother or sister to deliver whatever word or blessing the Spirit may have given her or him that particular Sunday.
I believe that in our craving for order, comfort and predictability (all good things in their places), we have swung so far to the other end of the spectrum, from Corinth, that we do not live with the confidence that the Spirit can speak through me (you, each of us) to build up the Church in worship. I think this confidence is worth cultivating, so we're going to make space for the Spirit to do something in July.
On July 10th, 17th, and 24th 2011, we're not going to plan the worship service. We won't have a bulletin. We'll gather and a space for the Spirit to say what the Lord wants us to hear that day. Any congregation member may be the one called by the Spirit to speak. Maybe all of us will speak -- who knows? This means the invitation will be open for you to present before the Church in word, in prayer, in song, - even in dance! Whatever you sense the Lord has given you for the Church.
Since we've never done this before, perhaps some examples are in order.
There are endless possibilities. As long as we do it one by one, so that the whole congregation can hear what each has to bring, our whole Church will be blessed.
This is the picture that we get from the first letter to the Corinthians: Christians speaking what the Spirit has given them, so the whole Church can hear and be encouraged or built up. Every Christian, at some time or another, might have something to say. I'm sure that there were also quiet members in the Corinthian congregation, but I'm also convinced that most of them were, at one time another, called by the Holy Spirit to participate in delivering what the Lord had given them.
I'm praying that by opening up a space for the Spirit to speak and lead through many of us, we'll discover in a concrete way that God works far and wide among us all the time. Whereas we often consider the Word of God to be channeling through one or a few people in worship, I pray we'll discover the Spirit bubbling up through many of us.
I'm praying that this will happen, and I'm excited about what we'll learn about the Spirit's gifts within our fellowship.
I invite you to join me, in prayer, that the Holy Spirit will do something exciting and powerful through these "New Testament" worship services. I know that when the Holy Spirit moves, the Church is built up for the grace of Christ and the glory of God.
I hope we can see it clearly, in a new way, this July.