Worship takes calm, focused preparation

By MARK DAVENPORT/Guest Columnist

On Aug. 22, a new Bible study will begin at First Presbyterian Church of Alabaster (Cumberland), which is intended to deepen our connection to the scriptures, to each other, and to the worship of the community.

We will begin a study based on the lectionary readings that serve as the focus during our worship. The study will focus primarily on the gospel readings from the gospel of Luke.

We will study one week ahead, which means the particular text we study on a Sunday evening will be the text around which worship is centered for the coming Sunday.

This will be the first time I have ever participated in a lectionary-based Bible study with a congregation I am serving. My expectations are that this study will be fun, informative, challenging and helpful as we get the opportunity to do some serious preparation for our community worship.

There are lots of activities that go on in and around the life of a congregation, but no activity, no gathering of the community is more important to us than our worship.

Sadly, our worship may be the piece of our active puzzle that gets the least attention across the board.

It’s good to reflect on how much time we spend getting ready for worship. Are we in prayer for our worship? Do we remember to take time so that God can calm us and ready us to encounter God? How open are we to the many ways in which God moves, speaks, and acts through worship? It’s difficult for me to properly describe how excited I am about all of these ways we can study and learn and worship together.

The backdrop for much of this activity is well spoken in the focus statement that has adopted for the 2010-11 education year: Service to God, Church, and Community Through Education. No one, no matter who that one is, can ever be too committed to the proclamation of the Good News in word and deed. We all need education. We all need times of study and reflection. We all need the affirmation and strength that comes through our community worship. We all need to find practical, constructive ways to serve God and neighbor.

Make plans to be involved this year in our study, our worship, and our service. Rise above being the kind of church person who has ideas about what we should be doing but no time to help implement those ideas.

In humility and out of love, commit to the life of the faithful community and let us all be prepared each day to proclaim the message of hope, grace, love and mercy that belongs to Jesus’ followers.

The Rev. Mark Davenport is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Alabaster (Cumberland). You can reach him at fpcalabaster@bellsouth.net or 663-3152.