Jam but no Jerusalem

Taking the lid off worship

Just started a preaching series at Newbury Baptist Church on worship, and wanted to start the whole thing by looking at first principles.

It is twenty-one centuries since the Roman governor of Turkey wrote to his boss and described Christians as those who “rise early in the morning and sing songs to Jesus as if he were a god”. The thing is – we are still doing it. We do it at different times and we do it in different ways. Some love liturgy and regard impromptu worship as undignified
Some love impromptu worship and see anything else as a straight-jacket. Some love old hymns for their dignity and depth. Some love new songs for freshness and life
Some struggle with the language of old hymns and find it obscure. Some struggle with language of new songs and find it vacuous. Some love the  familiarity of worship which takes same shape every week.Some love the surprise of finding it different every time.

To say what is ‘good’ worship is a bit like saying what is ‘good’ jam. Some like it very sharp and some like it very sweet. Some like it with big pieces of fruit and some like it with the fruit cut up so small it can barely be identified. Some like the colour to be natural and some like it to be enhanced. What we can do, though, is to say what is true jam. In order to be true jam it must contain fruit, it must contain some sweetener, it must be possible to spread it and it must keep.

Can we pin down such truth in worship, I wonder? My opening gambit was to say two things.

It must be personal – arising from the improbable goodness and indescribable generosity of God as experienced.

It must be global – much bigger than a collection of people each having a ‘private moment’ with God alongside each other. To worship is to join a crowd of people which stretches across centuries and continents.

What would your TWO vital ingredients be of the worship jam? Let me know via the comments box below. After all, jam is meant to be spread…


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