Tag Archives: worship

Exodus 3:4-5 – Holy Ground

When the LORD saw that he [Moses] had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush. ‘Moses, Moses!’  And he said, ‘Here I am.’  Then he said, ‘Come no closer!  Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’  (Exodus 3:4-5 NRSV)

If you have ever been in a worship or prayer meeting with me then you will have noticed that I always take off my shoes and put on ballet shoes.

It is not because I like to dance, although I do on occasions.  It is not because it is a superstition that I have to do it, as if I am out praying while I walk or prayer-walking I will wear shoes.  In fact at times I forget that I have my shoes on until I start praying so have to take them off, because it is too uncomfortable to leave them on!

To be honest if I can keep my shoes on during a prayer meeting in particular, it says to me that there is very little of God’s presence there.  That is why I wear ballet shoes (it is a bit safer than going completely barefoot), if God is there then I go barefoot as a recognition that I am on holy ground, wherever that may be!

From this Scripture I am in good company!  Moses was commanded by God to take of his sandals, as was Joshua on a similar occasion (see Joshua 5:13-15).  This was not because the ground in that place was intrinsically holy, it was just ground, but it was because God’s presence was there, and wherever God is, it is a holy place.

‘Remove the sandals from your feet, …’

In those days you did not walk on lovely well made paths or roads, at best it would be a well-worn track!  One consequence of this, and the fact that there were animals all around, your sandals which would protect your feet would get dirty when you were walking around.  This is why people would take off their sandals and wash their feet when they entered a tent or a building, so the dirt from the outside world would not be carried around inside.

In everyday life we all get dirty, we still sin even though we don’t generally want to.  As a result of this we need our feet washing regularly by God.  Jesus understood this, even though Peter did not (see John 13:1-20), and we are to wash each other’s feet as well.  When we come to God we need to ditch all that could get in the way of our relationship with him.  We need to try to keep short accounts with God and with each other, sometimes we will succeed in this, other times we will fail, but even then we can bring to him.

‘… for the place where you are standing is holy ground’

After ditching the dirt we need to recognise God’s majesty, power and holiness.  The fact is that God is God, and we are just human beings.

God is holy whether we respond to it or not, God asked Moses to respond by taking off his sandals, and that is how I respond to God’s presence.  How do you respond to God’s presence?  Are you quiet or noisy?  Do you respond in a physical way, or only in your spirit?

How you respond is not important.  What is important is that you do respond in the way God asks you to.  We all need to ask God to help us to be more sensitive to him, and to his leading.

Father God, help us be more like Moses, who turned aside when he heard you, and responded to your leading.  Help us to ditch the dirt in our lives, so that we might live more aware of you in all we do, and especially in times of worship and communion with you. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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2 Corinthians 2:14-16 – The Fragrance of Jesus

‘But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him.  For we are the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing; to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.  Who is sufficient for these things?  For we are not peddlers of God’s word life so many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.’ (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 NRSV)

All our senses are very informative, but also very subjective.  But more than that at times what we perceive is related to what God is revealing to us.  We see it in this Scripture, and I have seen this in action in the lives of two other people, and also this Sunday at church.  I shall explain.

On two occasions when I was working in Canaan Bookshop in Staines.  I was there with Andy Gilmour the manager when we had two alcoholics come into the shop, both had had some drink, but neither were too drunk that what they said would come from their imagination.  The first was an old gentleman and the second was a middle-aged lady, they came in at different times, and the incidents were separated by quite a months.

The old gentleman came in and said something like this, ‘Wow, its amazing! Can you smell it?’, ‘Smell what?’ me.  ‘Incense, beautiful incense!’ gentleman, and so the conversation went on for a few minutes, and he walked out if anything slightly happier than when he came in as God had touched him in some way, which was nothing to do with us!

On the second occasion, the lady came in, her manner and comments were the complete opposite to his.  ‘It smells horrible in here!’ lady.  Blank looks on our faces,  ‘Can you smell it?’ lady. ‘Smell what?’ one of us. ‘Its horrible, like death …’ lady.  Again this is not exactly what was said, but it gets over the gist of the conversation.

In both cases neither Andy nor I smelled a thing, but both the people smelled something and reacted to that smell.  The Scripture quoted above explains it, the man smelled life and he will give his life to Jesus at some point.  But the lady will not, she smelled death which mirrors the fact she is perishing, even to this day this saddens me, but I know that God is just and only he can see the end from the beginning.

On Sunday during the worship time at Maswell Park Church I smelled incense, for a while it was a very strong scent, then I kept getting whiffs of it.  It was like the finest incense I have ever had the pleasure to smell, but without the smoke!  I did not share it during the service, but afterwards I shared it with Daniel, the very gifted young man who had been leading worship, which I think encouraged him!

I shared it on Facebook on Sunday evening and an old friend of mine Mike, who also used to go to Maswell, shared that he had also experienced it once, and that was at Maswell too!  This encouraged me, as when I had mentioned it to my husband on the way home about it he said that he could not smell anything!  He did however comment on how good the worship was, and how he could happily have spent a longer in worship.

Lord Jesus, help us to be people of your presence.  To be so close to you that we both sense your fragrance and carry it with us wherever we go.  That your glory may be revealed, in your name we pray, Amen.

 

Olympic Games #1 – The Opening Ceremony

A week ago today we saw the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games being hosted in London.  It was amazing!

Danny Boyle really caught and shared from a secular viewpoint what God’s heart is for this nation.  When God consistently speaks and a lot of the church still hasn’t caught it, it is amazing how clear his voice can be heard by those who don’t know him!

The main ‘story’ of the ceremony opened and closed with hymns, Jerusalem (rousing, patriotic and theologically unsound), Guide me O thou great Jehovah, ending with Abide with me.

The focus was on the people, not the few, but the many.  From pre-industrial England, to the ‘dark Satanic mills’ and the Olympic rings forged from iron or steel of the industrial revolution.  The great and the good were represented, but the times of remembrance were for those who fell in the World Wars, and in the 7/7 bombings which happened one day after the Games were awarded to the London bid team.  The suffragette movement was also remembered, and for the first time in the history of the games all nations were sending both men and women to compete.

The pop music revolution was also remembered along with the internet revolution and especially social networking with the tribute paid to Sir Tim Berners-Lee one of the co-founders of the internet.

More was included but I won’t mention it all here.  The Queen made an entrance with James Bond from the palace by helicopter and parachute!  Royalty can act in unexpected ways! So can God!

There were cycling doves, representing those released in Greece, with one flying away at the end.  The Holy Spirit is seen Biblically as a dove, what more need I say.

The caldron was made from bronze petals – one carried for each team (204) and one extra (+1) making 205 in total.  And it was lit, not by past stars, but by 7 future stars, by the next sporting generation.

God will set this land alight again, but my generation and the one after will be central!  It will be as his people come together in Spirit and Truth.  It will be multi-generational and united across the church.

The flames were lit by the seven young people and then rose up and came together to burn brightly together, what a picture.  God’s holy fire will burn once again when we come together in him.  In unity and diversity, in Spirit and in Truth, generations together and through prayer and worship we shall see new memorials set up to God in this land!

A Liturgy Based on Psalm 24:3-6.

When I read this part of Psalm 24 it suggested a liturgy with responses to me, like some of the liturgical psalms.  Here is the section from the psalm and then the liturgy, which could be used in corporate prayer, follows (with the responses in bold).  Please feel free to use it!

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully. They will receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of their salvation. Such is the company of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.  (Psalm 24:3-6. NRSV)

Lord, we can only keep our hands clean and hearts pure with your help.

Lord, please help us.

Lord, we can only worship you with your help.

Lord, please help us.

Lord, we can only watch our mouths with your help.

Lord, please help us.

Lord, help us to long for your blessing.

Lord, please bless us.

Lord, help us to long for your salvation.

Lord, please save us.

Lord, help us to be a people who seek your face.

Lord, please let your face shine upon us.

Amen.