Leading worship is an aspect of pastoral ministry that is sometimes overlooked. Pastors are worship leaders. Pastors gather and call people before the Lord, to sing, pray, give tithes, hear His Word read and preached, and receive bread and wine from the His Table – all of which constitutes our service of worship on a Sunday morning. As a kingdom of priests, we’ve been consecrated and called to this service. I want us to be faithful in our service of worship and I’m praying that we would grow and mature in our service of worship.
In the first sermon of this year, on Epiphany Sunday, I called us to imitate the response of the Magi to Christ. They sought after Christ, they rejoiced in Christ, they fell down before him and worshipped him, and they offered him their gifts. I write this note today to remind us of these four commitments: (1) to seek after Christ; (2) to rejoice in Christ; (3) to fall down and worship him; and (4) to offer him our gifts.
First, let’s seek after Christ by continuing steadfastly in prayer and reading God’s Word. We had eight sermons on prayer last summer. Let’s apply what we learned and seek God diligently in prayer. David prays in Psalm 27:8:
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
As we seek God’s face in prayer, let’s also commit to seeking after Christ in Scripture. Augustine once said in a sermon that Scripture is the face of God, for now. Let’s seek the face of God in Scripture and let’s keep up with the schedule of readings given each week in the worship booklet.
Second, as the Magi drew near to Christ, “they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (Matt 2:10). Let’s commit to rejoicing this year. Christ is the dear desire of every nation; the joy of every longing heart. Let’s not confuse joy with pleasure. The joy of the Lord is not simply a pleasant feeling. It’s resting in the love of the Trinity. It’s a commitment, a disposition, an attitude, and an act of worship. It’s tied to singing and thanksgiving in Scripture. Let’s commit to rejoicing in Christ this year by joyfully singing and giving thanks.
Third, when the Magi saw the child with Mary his mother, “they fell down and worshipped him” (Matt 2:11). Falling down is the posture of total surrender and submission. Let’s beware of the sin of presumption and performative piety. Let’s commit to rejoicing in the Lord, but let’s also commit to worshipping him in reverence and fear. As we read in Psalm 2:11:
Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Sunday by Sunday, let’s gather before the Lord in reverence. Let’s serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Finally, after the Magi fell down and worshipped Christ, “they opened their treasures and offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Matt 2:11). These gifts were an expression of their love for Christ. Let’s commit to giving the Lord our very best as expressions of our love for him. Let’s remember what Jesus said when he was asked, “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:36-39) Yes, we need to love our neighbour: we need to grow in love for one another and in our outreach and evangelism to the lost. But the first and great commandment is this: “love the Lord our God will all our heart, our soul, our mind, and our strength” (cf. Deut 6:5). Let’s seek after Christ in prayer and reading Scripture because we love him. Let’s rejoice in the Lord because we love him. Let’s worship him in reverence and fear because we love him. Let’s not abandon our first love. Let’s stoke the fire and intensity of our love for God. Let’s abide in the love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.