Sunday, October 03, 2004

175 First Sunday Worship

[Interrupting my hunt for what the various denominations point to as the Gospel, I want to say a few words about how wonderful and inspiring our morning worship was today.]

Pastor Jeff preached a good sermon about the problems Christians have with materialism, specifically consumer debt, and he under girded it with the Gospel. He is a dynamic and lively speaker, and no one would ever fall asleep with Jeff in the pulpit. Jesus talked more about wealth than any other topic, he said. “Debt enslaves, Jesus frees us for service,” is a paraphrase. The root cause of “debt disease” is putting material things in place of God, and the cure is to let Jesus forgive and heal. The steps he suggested were, 1) confess the sin of materialism to God, 2) admit it to another person so you have accountability, and 3) get help from a financial counselor.

My standard for a good worship service is, 1) clear exposition of the Gospel, 2) use of the liturgy, and 3) some hint that the congregation knows what is going on out there in the world around us, especially beyond the city limits of our suburb. There have been Sundays when I’ve heard none of the three, or two out of the three, but today and last Sunday, we had three out of three.

If there are a few gaps in the Gospel, the liturgy fills that in with the words of Confession and Forgiveness, and this was Communion Sunday so we had the Canticle “This is the Feast,” always a lovely addition, the Words of Institution and Lord’s Prayer, and the Canticles, “Lamb of God” and “Thank the Lord.” It was the first time I’d heard Jeff sing, and he has a lovely voice.

Pastors, Preachers, Lay Leaders: No matter how good the sermon, if it doesn’t include a clear exposition of how Jesus paid the price for our sins and we are forgiven because of what he did, not because of our feeble efforts to do good works, how he suffered, died, and rose again. . . well, you’ve just brought everyone together for coffee hour and singing.

The theme of our church magazine this month is also about debt. You can read that at

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