10 Ways to Worship God This Summer

Inspired by Psalm 100, I shared these ideas for summer worship in my sermon, Twenty-Four Seven, preached on the last Sunday of the First Church Simsbury program year, June 5, 2016.

  1. Make a Joyful Noise: Every time something good happens shout “Amen!” “Alleluia!” or “Thank you Jesus!” Did you just enjoy a delicious lobster dinner by the shore? Alleluia! Finish reading a really great mystery novel? Amen! Watched an especially beautiful sunset? Thank you Jesus! Why do this? To remind ourselves that every good thing comes from God. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.

  1. Share Your Sabbath: You might be on vacation, but the people around you may not be. Wake up one morning and commit yourself to showing God’s love to everyone you meet. Note: This doesn’t mean going up to strangers and saying, “I love you.” You might get arrested. But even if it is just smiling and greeting a stranger good morning as you pass by, commit to noticing the people around you, reminding yourself that each is bearing unseen burdens. Are there small acts of kindness you might perform for someone to ease their burden? If a young mother is clutching a baby and toddler while trying to load groceries into her car, maybe you can offer to return her cart for her. Worship the Lord with gladness.

  1. Sing Praise: Bring a hymn book on vacation. Leaf through it each morning until you find a hymn you love and sing it. Find a hymn you have never heard before and read it. Let the poetry of the words wash over you. Let the melody lift you up. Throughout the day, recall the tune or a verse that moved you. Come into his presence with singing!

  1. Through a Child’s Eyes: See the world around you through the eyes of a child. Do this, first, by noticing children. Pay attention to their curiosity. Watch them explore the world around them. What makes them squeal and giggle? What makes them cry? You don’t need to analyze it. Just notice. Then try observing everything around you as a child might. See things as if for the very first time. Be curious. Wonder! Birds fly! Can you believe it?! Really, it’s a miracle. There are miracles all around us. Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his.

  1. The Hands That Made It: Pick out an object in your surroundings and reflect on all the hands that went into making it. For example a baseball bat. Think about the people growing and harvesting maple and ash from tree farms in New York and Pennsylvania. Others are inspecting and milling the wood, while others are driving the trucks that bring the lumber to the shop where bats are made. You get the idea. And each of these people that was part of the process that led to this bat you hold in your hands has a family, each experiences the full range of life’s joys and hardships. All of that energy pulses through the bat you hold in your hands. I find this meditation quickly reminds me how interconnected we all really are. We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

  1. Listen for the Birds (or the ocean, or the wind in the trees): Years ago I knew a young woman, Kaliko, who had a serious addiction and checked into a treatment facility. One of the things she learned there was to “listen for the birds.” She learned that she could quiet her busy mind when, wherever she was, she would pause to “listen for the birds.” “They’re always there!” she said excitedly, “If only you get quiet enough and listen.” I’m not sure this is literally true, but I am convinced that it is spiritually true. Wherever you are, in bed when you wake up in the morning, lying in a hammock in the shade, walking on the beach, or sitting on a bench at an amusement park, pick out a sound and give it your full attention. Listen and your mind will settle. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.

  1. God at Work: This is a variation of The Hands that Made It. Here, instead of drawing to mind the human hands that made an object, reflect on the way God worked to bring the things around you into being. When you dig your toes into the sand, remind yourself that all that sand used to be rock formed in the depths of the earth. Shifting plates pushed that rock to the surface where wind and water began to wear it down one grain at a time over billions of years. Here’s another one, that Frisbee you’re throwing? Made of plastic, which is made of petroleum, right? And where does petroleum come from? Lots and lots of decayed organic matter, including dead dinosaurs. So all of that, the billions of years, the dinosaurs, it’s all in your hands as you toss that Frisbee to your friend. Give thanks to God, bless God’s name.

  1. Remember When: Maybe you can’t take vacation this summer. Maybe you can’t get off work or maybe you are too tired or frail or poor. Then remember when… Remember one of your best vacations or Sabbath times. Maybe it was the time you lay on your back, with a friend or by yourself, and looked up at the stars. Try to remember every detail. What were you lying on? Could you feel the wind on your face? Which constellations could you see? Could you see the Milky Way? Remember those shooting stars? Who were you with? Relive the experience. I remember going scuba diving with my Dad when I was a teenager. I remember the feel of sun and salt on my skin. I remember feeling my heartbeat speed up when I saw the antennae of the spiny lobster sticking out from under the reef. I remember my Dad treating me as an equal. We have heard the word staycation, we can travel back to a special Sabbath time right here (mind) and right here (heart). For the Lord is good.

  1. Church Adventure: When you are away from Simsbury this summer, go to a different church. Not necessarily the Congregational church in town, go to a very different church. A few summers ago my family and I were camping in Gettysburg. Come Sunday we went to St. Paul AME Zion Church, having read that it was a historic church that had been active in sheltering slaves as part of the Underground Railroad. Well we were three of the twelve people in worship that Sunday, and the twelve also included a Co-Pastor couple; and I was the only Caucasian. But we were never so warmly welcomed. There was even a Children’s Message and Abby, bless her heart, went up even though she was the only kid in worship. And I am not making this up, when Abby got up front the lay woman leading the Children’s Message asked her if she had a song she would like to sing. Just like that, out of nowhere, “Hi Honey, aren’t you beautiful, do you have a song you’d like to sing for us this morning?” And she sang! Abby sang “Down to the River to Pray” and brought the house down, all twelve of us. Go to a different church. Be daring, try something completely different from what you are used to. You might be surprised by the way God moves in that place. God’s steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

  1. Come Home to First Church! Once again, don’t assume you have the summer off from church. Church during the summer can be a little more informal, more intimate and personal. Some of my most spirit-filled experiences in church have taken place during a summer service. Come! Make a joyful noise to the Lord all the earth!

 

 

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Published in: on June 10, 2016 at 2:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

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