Church Family Newsletter | December 9, 2022
Christmas Love: 1 Corinthians 13
“If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny glass balls but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime but do not show love to my family. I’m just another cook.
If I work in the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.
If I trim up the spruce with shimmering angels and crochet snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.
Love stops cooking to hug the child.
Love steps aside the decorating to kiss the husband.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table lines.
Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way.
Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. Video games all break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure.”
Poem by Sharon Jaynes – taken from Celebrating a Christ-Centered Christmas
I think most of us come to understand worship through osmosis or imitation.
For some, their family engaged in “Sunday Worship” services, and usually without consultation or consent they were exposed to rituals and practices which seeped into their mind as being “worship”. This could be singing hymns, or liturgy, prescribed prayers, calendared feasts, and celebrations.
In many churches, “smoke and mirrors” (fog machines and colored lights) are used to “enhance” the emotional impact of these practices. For many people, these practices border on superstition and magic, since they don’t have any understanding of why they are being employed, but they have a vague notion that somehow they please God or are required by Him.
So let’s get back to basics and see what information God has given us about "Why?" and "How?" we should worship Him.
The word “worship” in English gives us a clue as to what is going on, as it is really a contraction of the terms “worth” and “ship”. The idea behind it is a recognition and acknowledgment of superior value or power. Some people are said to worship material wealth and in doing so they are acknowledging the superior value compared to the possessions of the worshipper. Some people worship celebrity, acknowledging the superior recognition those celebrities have compared with the worshipper. And of course, I could supply many, many other examples, but I will leave it to you to fill in those from your own experience or observation (I’m looking at you, sports fanatic!).
Since God (YAHWEH) is by definition the most powerful and valuable entity in existence, it makes sense that worshipping anything else above him, or reserving any part of your devotion, is an insult to who he is. As we read in the first of the Ten Commandments:
“You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.” Exodus 20:3-5 NLT
So the first rule of worship is to acknowledge and reverence God exclusively and wholeheartedly. Or as Jesus told the Pharisees:
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31 NLT
This gives us the answer to who or what we should worship. We may be struck with awe at the beauty of nature, but we should be worshipping the creator rather than the creation. We may be filled with wonder while holding the future potential of a newborn in our arms, but we should be worshipping the giver of life, rather than the life itself. The worst error is to somehow believe that our plans, intentions, or intellect are superior to that of God — that does not end well!
Having properly identified “Who?” we should worship, the question arises “How?” we should worship.
Here again Jesus gives us guidance:
“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.” John 4:23 NLT
Jesus’ comment about the time being here now is because in the old Jewish sacrificial system, in order to properly worship God you had to bring a sacrifice as evidence of your repentance for sin. But as we discovered in a previous column, Jesus fulfills all the conditions necessary for us to approach God directly since He has taken the penalty for our sin upon himself.
So Jesus says that we should worship the Father spiritually, as opposed to materially, and honestly without pretense or fear for our condition. The other huge change is that Jesus himself takes on the role of High Priest for us so we can approach God through him personally and directly. This is a great privilege that was denied to worshippers before Jesus! The writer to the Hebrews expands on this fact in great detail and I recommend reading the whole letter - it’s not very long!
All the other trappings we have come to believe enhance our worship — the songs, prayers, emotional appeals, group groanings, hand raising, kneeling, eye closing, “amen!”-ing, good works, acts of kindness, fog machines, colored lights, worship teams, bands, choirs, sermons, pews, buildings, rallies, PowerPoint slides, sound systems — these are all just aids to help us achieve true worship which is in spirit and in truth.
So there is a right way to worship, it is simply a personal adoration of your spirit for who God is and gratitude for what He has done.
That is the substance, everything else is just form.
Even in church, it should still be a one-on-one encounter between you and God.
I love you Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul, rejoice!
Take joy my King
In what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound
In Your ear
Blessings on you and yours,
This will take you to Jim Black's collection of articles since starting the newsletter.
This Week's Schedule
- 9:00 AM - Praise Team Rehearsal - Chapel
- 10:00 AM - Adult Sunday School - Library
- 10:00 AM - Corps Cadets - Cadet Sean's Office
- 10:15 AM - Time of Prayer - Prayer Room
- 11:00 AM - Worship Service - Chapel
- 1:00 PM - Community Care Ministries - Various Senior Homes
- 8:30 AM - 2:00 PM - Adopt-A-Family Distribution - Concord Corps
- 6:00 PM - Men's Bible Study - Fireside Room
- 7:00 PM - Songsters Rehearsal - Chapel
- 8:00 PM - Senior Band Rehearsal - Chapel
- 10:00 AM - CAMEO: Christmas Around the World - Zoom Only
- 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM - Angel Tree Distribution Day - Concord Corps
- 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM - Senior Gifts Distribution - El Sobrante Silvercrest
- 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM - Christmas Food Distribution - Concord Corps
- 8:30 AM - TLP Breakfast Meeting - Fireside Room
Second Advent Sunday Service
Celebrate Christmas Concert
CAMEO's Hallmark Movie Party
Christmas Food Box Giveaway - El Sobrante Food Pantry
International Prayer Focus
This initiative of turning our thoughts and prayers towards the same part of the world at some point in the same week is a beautiful way to unite us as a global Army family and I thank you for the commitment that you each give to this.
The Prayer Focus requests for December 2022. We will be praying for the following territories:
28 November – 04 December 2022 | Middle East Region
05 – 11 December 2022 | The Philippines Territory
12 – 18 December 2022 | Nigeria Territory
19 – 25 December 2022 | USA Western Territory
Regional leaders: Commissioners Daniel and Tracey Kasuso
- Peaceful presidential election in 2023.
- We need God's guidance as we pray for more growth - openings in the territory.
- That God will raise more soldiers to support the good works of our leaders financially.
- That ritual killing, kidnapping, and terrorist attacks in this nation to stop. (Insecurity and insurgencies.)
- Spiritual growth among the comrades and officers.
- That our leaders, officers, and comrades will be in good health as they continue to move this ministry forward.
- 26 Lieutenants were commissioned this year in August and sent out. May God use them in His own way.
- By November 22 cadets will be welcomed into the training College. May God be with them.
Click here to share your requests. Requests will be prayed for in our Prayer Room and distributed through our Prayer Chain. Requests can be made anonymously.
Junior Soldier Rally
The theme for the rally is National Parks! All Prospective and current Junior Soldiers are invited to attend.
Event: Junior Soldier Rally
When: January 28, 2023
Time: 9:30 AM - 3:30 PM (Check-in starts at 9:30 AM in the Chapel Lobby)
Where: Sacramento Citadel Corps
Who: 7-14 years old
Cost: $15.00 (lunch included)
Registration is due Friday, January 20, so please let Major Ann know if you are interested in going. We plan to leave the corps at 8:00 AM.
You can make a tithe payment, give an offering, or donate towards the World Services fund.