A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN:

Rev. J.C. Austin

What’s the point of worship? It’s a very basic and important question that we rarely stop to ask. The answer, in short, is that worship is all about God. That’s a big reason why what we do on Sunday mornings together as a congregation is called a worship “service,” not a meeting or a gathering or an event or a program. On a very deep level, we believe something is being provided during worship; something is being served. And first and foremost, God is being served in worship. In demonstrating our devotion to God through our praise and gratitude, we serve God -- not because God needs our devotion, but to show our love for God and our appreciation for the overwhelming grace that God showers upon us.Second, God serves us, but for different reasons. In worship, God equips us to be the Body of Christ out in the world: God teaches us through the reading and preaching of God’s Word, and God nourishes us through the sacraments of Communion and Baptism. So, even when we are being served, it is for the larger purposes of serving God out in the world through our individual lives of faith and our congregational mission.

The remaining question, of course, is how: how should we serve God through our worship? The Reformed tradition, the theological tradition from which the Presbyterian Church comes, has a long and rich history of particular themes, practices, ideas, and values that offer answers to that "how." Because of that, I’m going to experiment with a periodic series of articles in future Newsletters that hold up some of those emphases for us to consider.

Reflecting all that thinking, a way we’re trying to answer this question of “how should we worship” here at FPCB is through exploring different worship styles. Since we returned to full use of the building, we have been holding a “contemporary” service at 9 am on Sundays, and a “traditional” service at 10:30 am. The titles are a bit misleading, in that the traditional style (done well) has deep contemporary resonance, while the contemporary service similarly follows the traditional flow of a Reformed worship service. But that’s why it’s helpful to remember that the distinctions between the two are really about style: music, language, dress, setting, etc. And while this experiment of holding two different styles of Reformed worship continues, the Session is beginning to study the full range of possibilities for styles of Reformed worship -- because the truth is there are many different styles within the larger umbrella categories of contemporary and traditional. There will be much more to say and discuss about that in the coming months, and if you have questions or thoughts about any of that, please reach out to me or one of the Elders and let’s talk!

In the meantime, regardless of what style feels most comfortable to you, Sunday worship continues to be one of the most important and rewarding spiritual practices we can follow, not because it serves our needs, but because in serving God through worship we most reliably experience God’s presence and purpose for us as God continually forms and re-forms us together into the Body of Christ, and individually as members of it. Thanks be to God!

Grace & Peace, JC