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Ninth Biennial Convention
Augustana University College,
Camrose, AB
June 12 - 15, 2003

Sing to the Lord a New Song

Offering God Our Embrace

This is the fourth in my series of columns on the theme of the upcoming National Convention Sing to the Lord a New Song.

A visitor to a Swedish bishop stood with the church leader looking out his office window at a mosque across the street. When the visitor asked the bishop what he thought about the mosque, the bishop replied something like this:

"I have been keeping my eye on those people. I see them come to prayers at least once a day, some of them five times a day. Every Friday the whole community gathers. In contrast, here at the cathedral, I'm having to fight with the parish nurse about attending church once a month."

How we worship, how we sing the Lord's song, is an expression of how we value God's mission. When we gather infrequently and grudgingly, when we do not sing, when we engage in liturgy as a dry routine instead of passionate prayer, we tell the world around us that God is not at the centre of what gives us life.

…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23a)

The fruit of the Spirit is our response to a God who so overwhelms us with awe and admiration that every one of our emotions cries out for expression. The fruit of the Spirit is our response to a God who redeems us so unconditionally that there is nowhere else where life is given so abundantly. Thus we sing Peter's words in one of our liturgies:

Alleluia. Lord, to whom shall we go; you have the words of eternal life. Alleluia!

In Isaiah's vision of the New Jerusalem, the people of other nations stream to Mt. Zion because they are so inspired by the faith and zeal of Jerusalem's people. Wouldn't it be something if the diverse people of our society saw us in that way?

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might, says Deuteronomy 6:5.

Our household includes our son and daughter-in-law and two granddaughters. When I come home from work, they each come running to the door, they each shout "Grandpa!" and they each give me a hug. If my family, with as flawed a person as I for a model, can do that, surely the family whose source is God can do something similar. Can we not want to run into the presence of God and offer God our embrace?

Worship of God needs to serve no other purpose than to adore God. Worship is its own purpose: it only needs to be the gathering of God's people who come to bask in the presence of the Loving One. That's one of the ways we sing our song unto the Lord.

-- Bishop Raymond Schultz

In full communion with The Anglican Church of Canada
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