You needed that. You needed that vertical moment.
You needed to get your eyes off this (horizontal) and this (self) to Him.You needed that moment to turn your focus completely on the God of the universe. That may end up being the most important 15 minutes of the week to come. As a matter of fact I am sure that these entire 75 minutes will prove to be a transformative experience for you if you let it. Because that’s what worship does.
Why is it so imperative? Why is worship essential? In particular, corporate worship…?
Well, look at you. Look at how you walked in here this morning.
· some of you are out of whack, out of sorts, irritable and confused – worship can change that
· some of you are cantankerous ,cross, critical, contentious ,complaining, contrary , and churlish – worship can change that
· some of you are bored and directionless – worship can change that
· some of you are lonely and a little lost – worship can change that
· Some of you are weary, tired, and care worn - worship can change that
· Some of you are in deep and abiding pain – worship might not change the pain but it sure can help heal the wound.
I’m telling you worship is big…bigger than you’ve been making it…more essential than you’ve thought…more awe inspiring, life shaping and heart healing than you have imagined. And for the next 4 weeks I want to make a compelling case for you to make corporate worship a driving value of your life. To convince you to put it on your calendar in pen, to become a person or a family who commits to the Way of Worship.
And I’m going to tell you why… 4 reasons over the next 4 weeks…
Today - Corporate worship reorients you from yourself and your pain to your great and powerful God.
Magnus Deus--the great God (transcendence)
Week 2 - Corporate worship invites you to experience deeply the presence of God who dearly loves you.
Coram Deo--in the presence of God (nearness)
Week 3 - Corporate worship allows you to enjoy the community of the passionate people of God.
Communitas Dei --- the community of God
Week 4 - Corporate worship launches you out into the wildness of the mission of God.
Missio Dei--the mission of God
(Corporate Worship invites you to the borderland of the supernatural)
So today…why worship?
Corporate worship reorients you from yourself and your pain
to your great and powerful God.
· worship allows us to go vertical
· to experience the transcendence of our magnus Deus
What is transcendence? That which is beyond our normal existence. (Otherness)
· Transcendence is the complete otherness of God
· next week - immanence where God is fully present in the physical world and thus accessible to us and present with us (of course that is crucial but equally crucial is God’s transcendence
The Bible is packed with references to God’s transcendence:
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Psalm 8:1
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty…. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all! 1 Chronicles 29:11
And God himself speaks of his transcendence:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9
“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:25-26
Experiencing the Magnus Deus is absolutely essential to you!
· You must, on a regular basis, be overwhelmed, astonished, astounded, humbled and maybe even a little frightened by God…why?
4 reasons you desperately need to worship our transcendent God:
1. Your deep pain or tragedy.
· it is the human condition – death, illness, loss, pain
· What I find fascinating is that the human soul naturally knows what to do when confronted by tragedy...it always looks up. Inevitably every time we experience a national crisis our political and thought leaders and media call on God or at least ask where is he. And so do you.
· In tragedy and pain, even those who rarely call on the name of the Lord become theists and think vertical even if its to shake their fist.
· Why does the soul naturally look up in pain and tragedy? We crave answers, we crave something bigger than ourselves we crave something that transcends the madness and confusion.
· one of my favorite stories in scripture illustrates our need for the Magnus Deus in our pain:
God never explains a thing…and that is sufficient for Job just to know that there is one beyond, transcendent… there is a Magnus Deus!
2. Your ongoing anxiety or depression
· we live in a time of chronic anxiety and chronic depression
· You can tell when a person suffers ...head droops and eyes down...natgural physical reaction as we focus intently on our aching souls
· Corporate worship breaks through this cloud, this dark night
· In worship of the Magnus Deus God grabs our chins and turn our eyes upward.
· Elijah is a great example…1 Kings 19:9 page________
In worship God takes our slumping shoulders…and stands us up straight. In vertical adoration all this stuff fades and I am bathed in the light of beauty and glory
Corporate worship reorients you from yourself and your pain to your great and powerful God.
3. Your petty self-centeredness
· let’s face it - the world revolves around you
· individualism and selfishness are as American as apple pie and Chevrolet – our country was birthed in it and we embrace it every day.
· The most American of words our kids learn early on - “Mine!”
· Worship … transcendent worship in particular is an antidote to that. And some people won’t like it Because worship exposes self-centeredness for in that transcendent moment it isn’t all about you.
Some folks don't dig worship because it makes something bigger than them.
"A god who in any way threatens to lead us beyond our personal autonomy will likely be reduced to a more manageable size." Donald McCullough, The Trivialization of God
Maybe this is why so many people are worship critics (I don’t like that song, that worship leader, that dance) or why people hop from church to church…where they can be fed better. Because it’s all about them.
Jesus knew how much his key followers struggled with self-centeredness. James and John (let us be on your left and right) So maybe that’s why he took them up on the mount of transfiguration and gave them a blast of the magnus dues –
“Here is one of the greatest values of praise: it decentralizes self. The worship and praise of God demands a shift of center from self to God.” Paul E. Billheimer
4. Your sin - your lack of moral integrity … your playing fast and loose with the will of God
Transcendent worship can be just what you need to scare the living daylights out of you.
o you need to come under the heart lamp of the holiness of God
o you need to have the Great I am get up in your business
“More spiritual progress can be made in one short moment of speechless silence in the awesome presence of God than in years of mere study” –A.W. Tozer.
The people of God coming out of Egypt discovered this to be true.
Exodus 19: 16 page ________
God was about to introduce to the law…their moral code. Starting with the 10 commandments but what happened right before is too good to miss:
· 3 months after leaving Egypt they come to Mt. Sinai
· Moses then returned with the 10 commandments
They were terrified of the Magnus Deus! And rightfully so.The people experienced the Magnus Deus and they put two and two together…the law..their moral code and the transcendence of God. This is how He want Me to live!
Think that got their attention? think that shaped their morality? for a time it did and it should yours.
I do not know who you think you are playing with when you walk in here with your swagger or sneak in here with your stealthy sinful lifestyle. Who do you think you are? Who do you think He is? Aren’t you afraid of Him?
You need a dose of shake you in your boots transcendence – you need the Magnus Deus. It’s time you stop playin and start falling on your face in humility because as Annie Dillard suggests “… the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return. ”
You desperately need to worship our transcendent God:
Corporate worship reorients you from yourself and your pain to your great and powerful God.
I want you to know we take this very seriously at Grace. As best we can we seek to create transcendent worship experiences:
We have values that shape our coporate worship experiences.
One is EXCELLENCE: As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to be excellent in whatever we do. Excellence is not perfection, and must be balanced with humility...but it is doing the best that can be done with the available resources. We believe excellence best represents His heart, character, and creativity to the world. We believe excellence has an impact. We believe excellence points to the transcendence of God.
· Excellence is why we planning weeks in advance in painstaking detail.
· Excellence is why we rehearse for hours and hours.
· Excellence is why we incorporate lights and images and quality sound reproduction
We are committed to excellence not because it’s a show but because He is our transcendent God.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
A second value that shapes our worship at Grace is Passion ( or exuberance)
We don’t want to prescribe or manipulate emotions but create an environment in which every individual is granted permission to respond to the Magnus Deus. If he shows up…pulls up the big chair and sits down in our midst we want each of us to feel free to react with our whole being.
Much like David…David danced before the Lord . . . with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. 2 Samuel 6:14-15
Those values emerge out of our conviction that
Corporate worship reorients us from ourselves and our pain to our great and powerful God.
That Great and powerful God is here.
· and you are before him in your pain and amidst your tragedy
· and you are before him in your anxiety and depression
· and he is here confronting your petty self-centeredness
· and he is here shining the heat lamp of his holiness on your sinfulness.
Spread your arms open palmed before the transcendent one
Let us in humility, in excellence, with passion worship the Magnus Deus!