Sermon: Core Values – Inspired Worship
Reading: John 4 v.23 and Psalm 15
Sermon date: February 4th



Spend a short time thinking about the following questions. How do you answer them for yourself, individually; and how would you answer them for us as a church?
  • What exactly are we doing when we come to church to worship?
  • What part(s) of the service constitute 'worship'?
  • What sort of conditions do we have to fulfil before we can worship?
  • What's my favourite style of worship?
  • Can I still worship even if I don't come to church? 

Study Part 1:

Read Psalm 15 together
The question in v1 sets the tone of the psalm: who is good enough to come close to God, to enter his tent? Originally the Tabernacle in the wilderness was a moveable tent which represented God's Presence with his people. Later, the temple in Jerusalem, set on a hill, had the same sense of God's Presence. It's possible that this psalm was literally a question asked by the priest, addressed to  the people as they came to worship: he spoke the question and the people were expected to recite the answer given in the psalm, if they had lived up to it. It's also used as a eulogy for the dead, to describe a God-fearing life.
  1. Go through the characteristics listed, and discuss what they mean and how they relate to worship being a declaration of what God is worth:
    Worship = His worth being expressed.
  2. What do these things have in common? [Practical actions directed towards other people, relating mainly to justice, personal integrity and opposing exploitation of others.]
  3. Which do you find easier to fulfil?
  4. Which are more difficult?
  5. What about v 5?! Why is this more difficult?
  6. Try to put into one sentence what God is saying about how he wants to be worshipped.
    Compare with Micah 6.8.

Study Part 2:

Read John 4. 7-24 together
The wonderful account of Jesus' conversation with a woman at a well. Men meeting women at wells is a literary strategy in the Bible denoting the meeting of a future beloved one? Here is a woman who has failed at faithful human love, but is meeting the Beloved Son and will be changed by the encounter and by his acceptance of, and love for, her.
        7. How does Jesus' attitude to the woman help her ability to Worship?
                a) In spirit [cuts through the conventions of religious rules; speaks of Living Water within]
                b) In truth [he confronts her with truth about herself; reveals the truth about himself]

Study Part 3:

How do we put all this together?
How we live EVERY day is part of our worship. Like the first verse of psalm 15, we are questioned, (or we use self-examination), to see how we have lived recently when we come to church to worship. This is what we do together when we reflect on our week and confess our sin; then receive God's absolution. This is part of the liturgy of the Church of England. (Other denominations do the same under different names.)
  • We come together by the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
  • We listen to God's Written Word, just as the woman at the well at Sychar listened to God's Living Word.
  • We reflect on it and ask that God change us accordingly.
  • We use our creative gifts to worship God within our formal services together: we sing; play musical instruments; use poetry; pray; sometimes dance or perform drama. They are each part of the worship. But 'the worship' is the whole lot together. It really is more than just a song.
And yes, we can worship God individually, every day, by wherever we are. But he also calls us to meet together to do it. It's the difference between seeing all your family members at Christmas, one by one, or getting them all together for a party!

Christine Bailey, 31/01/2018