Those who claim membership in the church of Jesus Christ, whether that is here at Northway or some other fellowship, have at one time or another publicly professed their faith in Christ as Lord and Savior. Having done that, we are said to have moved into that joyous state of "being saved," or simply being assured of our salvation because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Justification is the theological term used for this blessed reality. This is all very good news indeed. But it was only a beginning. Now what happens? Where do we go from here?
There is more good news. For now we move into the ongoing life of faith, and this life is one characterized by growth in faith, love, mercy, peace and joy. In short, we grow more and more each day into the image God has planned for each one of us. This process is called sanctification, which means "to be made holy." So as not to make us too nervous about needing to be perfect tomorrow, let's remember that this is a lifelong journey as we seek to be more like Jesus every day. Notice, too, that it is God who makes this process possible. And this means that God will provide the resources we'll need to carry on daily.
One of those resources is worship. Donald McKim writes that "worship is absolutely crucial for our Christian existence, just as it was for Israel in the Old Testament. We worship God regularly, weekly, as we gather with other believers in church as the fellowship of faith. Participating in worship in the church is not an option for us as Christians; it's a basic necessity. "We gather in the covenant community for praise, petition, and thankfulness for who God is and what God has done" (Presbyterian Beliefs 104).
So, worship is a most important "absolutely crucial" aspect of our growing in the life of faith, of being "sanctified." For it is in worship that we regularly come into the presence of God as a community of faith; confess our great need for God's mercy and assurance; hear the word of God read and proclaimed; respond with our acts of prayer, praise, thanksgiving and personal offering of self and resources for the ministries of the church. The movement of entering into God's presence, listening to God's word and responding in faith, prepares us to go out into our surroundings with renewed energy and hope.
Be blessed in your worship this Sunday wherever God leads you to be!
- Woods-Henderson is the pastor at Northway Presbyterian Church in Loyalsock Township