Are you wondering what our worship is like? That’s a perfectly valid question, particularly if you are looking for a church, but if you’re only thinking in terms of the style of our services, then please allow me to broaden and deepen your understanding of what worship really is and of what Jesus said and taught us.
Our worship over recent weeks, during Advent, has been completely focused on the birth narratives of Jesus and the stories that surround it, the visits of the angel to Mary, Zechariah and Joseph. The coming of the magi, (wise men), and the shepherds. We have sung both traditional advent hymns and carols and contemporary Advent and Christmas songs and we have lit Christingles. We have said prayers that are written and shared in times of spontaneous open prayer. Yes, we have had warm fuzzy moments that have moved our emotions as we have encountered God in our worship, we have laughed at dramas, oohed and ahhed at Nativity plays, we have listened to solos being sung, and been accompanied by both the organ and the music group. As we’ve listened to sermons we’ve explored many different aspects what Jesus coming to Earth really means. But if that was all we had done, then it wouldn’t be pleasing to God at all. Our worship has gone beyond this. We have had reverse advent calendars. It’s just a box into which instead of taking out something, every day we have added a non perishable food item to go to our local food bank of which we are also a distribution point. So our worship has been directed both outward and upward. In addition to this we have collected toys to be given to children with their mothers in a woman’s refuge and have provided items for baby basics, a charity that provides for mums whose budgets don’t stretch far enough. We have supported Spurgeon’s childcare and the Children’s Society. Our own people who are in need have been fed and helped as well and we have also provided very practical help to those in need who have approached us a church looking for help.
Jesus was very clear that the greatest commandments are “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.'” (Lk. 10:27).
So true worship must always include Jesus and me because it is about having and expressing a personal relationship with God. But if it never goes beyond that then its not really worship at all. We need to combine the “spiritual: expressing love for God, with the “practical” showing love to the people on Earth who are made in his image in real and concrete ways. The lonely have been visited, the needy have been helped, those in despair have have been befriended and given practical help. So we’ve explored what Jesus coming to earth has meant in intellectual exploration, in our own community life, and in reaching out beyond ourselves to the world that God has made and visited in Jesus.
So in answer to your question: what’s the worship like at Burton Latimer Baptist Church? I’d want to say it’s real and authentic, not just because it’s an expression of love to God, but because our love for God is expressed in our love for the people around us in our community who are made in His image. We are not simply looking at life and asking ”Why it isn’t better?” We are daring to dream the dream of God and envisage what life would be like if his will was done on Earth as it is in Heaven and we are living the dream through the things we are doing to make a real difference in the world.
I hope that you will want to come and see what our services are like, but even more than that, I hope that you will feel called to be a part of of a worshipping family who are dreaming God’s dreams, and living them out in his world. God became flesh in Jesus, and in response to this we have to make a real expression of his love for people in practical ways. Come and join us, not just because you want to be blessed, but because you want to be a blessing.
With love, I hold out the challenge, not simply to seek God’s blessing, but to actively be a blessing to others as a part of a worshipping family of faith.