The Rev. Bruce Waldron is a United Reformed Church minister of Australian descent who came to Sawston Free Church on 24th April 2009. Bruce is married to Sharn and they have two children and four grandchildren in Australia.
Bruce is passionate about the relevance of Jesus’ message for a world that is hurting so much from injustice and division, environmental irresponsibility and lack of comprehension of the way God calls us to be.
Worship is a lot more than sitting in church singing hymns!
“Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship”, writes St. Paul.
St Paul makes it pretty clear that worship is a lot more than coming to church on Sunday. In fact, he probably never thought about worship like that, and here we enter into tricky territory. As your minister, it’s my duty to make sure you are motivated to come to church on Sunday morning so I’m on a sticky wicket if I start to say that’s not what is most important.
It’s easy to tie ourselves up in knots arguing what’s most important, and forget that we’re doing what Jesus jokingly referred to as “straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel.” It is not a competition, any more than asking whether the front or the back wheel is most important on a bicycle. Either way, you’re not going to travel too well.
Arguing about whose worship is best, is as useless as throwing potato chips at seagulls to make them go away.
So talking about “practical Christianity” as though it’s a moral virtue as opposed to those “pious people” who just want to spend time in church, is just as pointless as talking about being “spiritual Christianity” as though it’s a superior discipleship to people who bust their boiler in expressing God’s love in practical action. Either side of the argument is akin to throwing potato chips at seagulls to make them go away. Our faith asserts that Jesus was fully God and fully man. He did both, equally.
Our time with God lets us in on how we can serve best with the life we’ve been given. Our physical service, and our reflecting on it, helps us ground the faith that we are given by the God we come to for direction, strength and motivation.
Leave the action off and our worship gets very self-serving and if that happens, no matter how hard we pray we’ll be moving away from God.
But, if we leave the worship off, our actions start to reflect our narrow self-perspective rather than God’s perspective. We lose touch with our compass and we are likely to walk really hard and long, in the wrong direction.
Now I sit with another danger. The argument can so easily create another form of pride, and pride is not on either. This is the pride where I sit and judge from my high ground of “moral and spiritual balance”:
“He’s too practical.”
“She’s too spiritual.”
But me, I’m straight down the middle, balanced, noble… umm except for the pride bit – which of course means I’m not balanced at all. I’ve actually already started to topple, badly.
So here’s another reality. It’s not about me, or you, or any one individual. We are all out of whack a bit, somewhere. Jesus formed a community of very imperfect people to carry his message, not a book of regulations, and it is in community that the answer must lie.
So if you are too practical, thank God for the worshippers, honour their mission, and strive to be like them.
And if you are too pious, thank God for the practical, and honour their calling, and strive to be like them
Let the presence of each call the other into question, and praise be to God for the question and challenge.
Let each give thanks for the other, honour their service, and see in them too, the grace and mercy and presence of God.
Let love be the rule; and thanks be to God for all things, united in Him.