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  AUGUST 2018

 

 

Gone fishin’.

Cinthia Jean Saul

 

Lex adorandi est lex credenti: we believe according as we worship.

 

 

My father worshipped two things:  the God of Israel and the gentiles, and river fishing.  Come Sunday morning, particularly if it was bright and beautiful, you can bet which won out.  He taught me to love God and to love trout fishing, so the choice about whether to go with him or miss Sunday school, which I also loved, and miss church, which even at a young age, I felt guilty about, always perturbed me.  He would say he felt closer to God on the river.  Now, because I have chosen to make my vocation in helping people organize their lives through worship, I would tell my father to come worship Sunday morning, or Friday night, and head out for the river later.  I would tell him worship, for those of us who are claimed by God, isn’t optional.  And this is why.

   Enjoying God’s good creation by fishing, for example, is certainly a response to God, which is a part of  worship, but this activity cannot replace worship.  Worship is a shared experience of the believing community.  Although I would certainly encourage anyone to persist in an activity that makes him or her “feel closer to God,” promotes a sensus divinitatius, in my opinion, fishing falls in the category of spiritual self-care, not worship, and tradition requires that the believer pay attention to both response to God and praise of God.  The Reformed Tradition, of which I am a part, has emphasized the importance of the Lord’s Day as the time for hearing the Word and celebrating the sacraments in the expectation of encountering the Risen Lord, and for responding in prayer and service.

  From the beginning, God created women and men for community and called a people into covenant.  Jesus called, commissioned, and promised to be present to a people gathered in his name.  A believer’s personal response to God is in community, the defining element of worship.  Through the elements of worship—Scripture, proclamation and sacraments—God is present by the Holy Spirit acting to transform, empower and sustain human lives.  Though God is to be worshipped in life, in the normal course of a fishing trip, for example, worship in its normal usage refers to the expression in corporate gathering of adoration, praise and thanksgiving to God.

Anticipating that my father might protest that he can praise God in solitary activity, I would agree, but further explain what cannot happen for a believer, Jew or Christian, in solitary activity. Consider the longest of God’s commandments—to keep the Sabbath holy.  Consider Jesus’ Great Commission to the early disciples:  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the  Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you (Mat 29.19-20).   Jesus instructed us to gather with the people, to teach and baptize, not by any stretch a solitary activity. 

Faithful worship of God, faithful witness to Christ, begins with our understanding of the scripture and the ecumenical heritage of the people of Israel and the early church.  Only when we have regained our identity from the past, to learn once again who we are and to whom we belong, can we undertake our mission in the present. Not only are we unable to inherit this legacy in isolation, we find in the corporate what we cannot on our own.  Kathleen Norris, a Presbyterian lay pastor and poet, writes in Amazing Grace, “In worship, disparate people seek a unity far greater than the sum of themselves but don’t have much control over how, or if, this happens.  Recklessly, we let loose with music, and words of hymns, the psalms, canticles and prayers.  We cast the Word of God out into the world, into each human heart, where, to paraphrase the prophet Isaiah, it needs to go to fulfill God’s purpose.”   The good news of God comes not to us directly, but in the community of believers. It’s not optional, Dad.  It is essential.

 

Greetings to you and blessings through Christ,

Pastor Cindy

 

Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace, NY:  Riverhead Books, 1998, p. 246.                            

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                       

Contact Us  
Presbyterian Church of Bull Shoals
903 Walnut Ave.
P. O. Box 305
Bull Shoals, Arkansas 72619
Phone 870-445-4622
Fax 870-445-4622
Regular Schedule  
Sunday
  • Adult Sunday School
    – 9:00 AM
  • Morning Worship
    – 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Monday
  • Office Hours Monday through Thursday
    – 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Thursday
  • Coffee in Memorial Hall - Open to public
    – 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Friday
  • Office Closed on Friday
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July 30 - Vicky Bair

August 3 - Peni Lloyd

August 7 - Ed Chapman

August 15 - Rev. Cindy Saul

August 20 - Bob Wiles

August 21 - Ken Hobart

August 23 -Irene Bere

August 29 - Celia Millard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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