Worship as a Spiritual Discipline
By Nancy Dibelius, Assistant Director of
Vital Congregations for Spiritual Life, reprinted from The Bridge of the Upper New York Annual Conference
Spiritual disciplines are a means by which we “get away” with Jesus, “walk” with Jesus, and ‘learn’ from Jesus. From Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, “God has given us the disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving his grace. The disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us…Spiritual growth is the purpose of the disciplines…We must always remember that the path does not produce the change; it only places us where the change can occur.”
I often tell people that I practice spiritual disciplines as a means of putting myself in the presence of God, to “keep company with Jesus.” It enables me to recognize and be aware of God’s presence, to listen for God’s deep desire for me, and to find myself in that place where God is able to affect change in my life. I am not always able to experience that connectedness, but the more I practice, the more opportunity I have. I appreciate that the word ‘discipline’ often has a negative connotation in our present culture, but its basic meaning is “to train by instruction and exercise.” Athletes accept that discipline is essential to successful participation in a sport; it may not always be easy, but it is necessary. Practicing spiritual disciplines is not always easy either, but it is indeed necessary if we seek to ‘keep company’ with Jesus and to ‘recover the life’ God desires for each of us.
The traditional Christian disciplines include:
Meditation, Prayer (and Listening), Fasting, Study,
Simplicity, Solitude (and Silence), Submission,
Service, Confession, Worship, Guidance (group
individual spiritual direction), and Celebration.
Let’s explore how we might practice worship as a spiritual discipline. Although we generally think of worship as a corporate act, it is also a very personal act and it can occur in private, in small groups, and yes, in a large body on Sun- day morning. Worship is our response to God’s initiative in our lives; our praise and thanks for all that God is and all that God has done. Forms, rituals, and liturgy are not the central piece of worship; our authentic experience of the holy is what creates meaningful worship. In the Bible we see people gathered for worship with the expectation that they would hear the voice of God in their midst, the same was true of the early Christian church. They gathered knowing that Christ was present among them and that he would teach them and touch them.
We enter worship whenever we enter God’s presence, our worship may include singing, dancing, praying, or simply entering silently into God’s presence. But worship invites us to enter fully into the experience, offering our whole being to God. Our body, mind, spirit, and emotions are all offered on the altar in worship.
A vital aspect of our Christian community is the gathering together to worship. The invitation is there for us to gather into a unity of spirit that transcends our individualism. Gathered together in faith we become the ‘body of Christ.’
Consider the ways in which you can
participate in this experience, in your home with
your family, in meetings and other small groups,
and as the gathered community. On a personal
level, consider ways in which you can make your
devotional time truly seem like worship; create
space that is worshipful; light a candle, have a
cross or another object that opens you to God’s
presence. Create a ritual that opens and closes
your devotional time, sing a hymn/play a CD.
During the Advent season, consider ways in which
you can create moments of worship with your
family; lighting an Advent candle and reading a
brief scripture. Open meetings and other small
group gatherings with a brief time of worship, not
just a short prayer; if you’re not sure how to
design such a time of worship, use a devotional
that is designed with a format that creates a
time of worship.
When attending Sunday morning worship, still your soul and all the busyness that comes with life in the world and enter God’s presence and listen. Consider arriving in the sanctuary early. As you enter, remind yourself that you are in a holy space and be respectful of that holiness. Offer prayers; for those who will lead the service, for the gathered community, for this day and all that it invites us to, for the greater community and a world in need, for the earth and the wonder of God’s creation. As you see others enter, lift them to God, invite the living Christ into their lives. And then, truly experience authentic community. When we are truly gathered into worship as a community, we invite a deep inward fellowship in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our separateness and divisions melt away and we are invited to experience a sense of unity and oneness in God’s presence.
Consider journaling about your worship experiences; what truly touched you and opened holy space for you, how did viewing Sunday morning worship differently change your experience?
May Worship Calendar
5/5/19 – Third Sunday of Easter – Rising Strong:
Emmaus, Luke 24:13-35.
Sacrament of Holy Communion.
5/12/19 – Fourth Sunday of Easter – Rising Strong: Breakfast, John 21:1-19.
5/19/19 – Fifth Sunday of Easter – Rising Strong: Tabitha, Acts 9:36-43. Sacrament of Holy Communion.
5/26/19 – Sixth Sunday of Easter – Paul Sweet preaching. Scriptures TBA.
Weekly Email Newsletter
Did you know we have a new weekly email newsletter? We’re trying to better communicate all of the event we have happening at church, so that everyone is in the loop! If you haven’t yet been receiving the weekly email and you would like to, please contact the church office to share your email address with us.
Pastor Beth’s Community Hours
Pastor Beth has some “office hours” out in the community each month. Drop by to chat any time, stop in for a word of prayer, or sit and stay for lunch. She’ll be at Oswegatchie Coffee(location may change) on Wednesday, May 8th from 11am-2pm. Open Hours at Cambray Terrace will be on Wednesday, May 22nd from 11am-2pm. Hope to see you there!
Summer Office Hours
During the months of July and August the office will be closed on Mondays. Office hours will be Tuesday-Friday from 8am-1pm.
Supper and Study
Our next Bible Study starts on Wednesday, May 15that6pm.Each week we’ll gather for a light meal and brief look at the upcoming scriptures for worship. In May, our focus is Rising Strong. We’ve experienced the joy of resurrection on Easter Morning – but how do we live resurrected lives every day? Come and join the conversation. Each session will last about 60 minutes. All are welcome!
The office is open from 9-1 on weekdays. We are looking for volunteers to cover the office on days that Tina, our secretary, is out. Your responsibilities would be to answer the phone, get the mail and greet any visitors while she is away. If this sounds like a way you would like to serve, please contact the office.
We are preparing to update all of our membership records. Tina is looking for help researching addresses for people we are no longer in touch with but remain on our membership roles. If this is something you would like to help with, please contact the office.
We are looking for families/groups to sign up for the following dates. May 12 (Mother’s Day), and 26(Paul Sweet Preaching).
The office will be closed Monday May 27th in observance of Memorial Day.
We can use donations of boxes of tissues. Coffee donations can be left in the kitchen. We are still looking for jelly jars. Don’t forget the household sale! We will need plenty of donations and workers.
Thank you for your previous donations of plastic bags. We no longer need these and are not accepting donations. PLEASE recycle them at one of our local stores.
A Way to Give Back
Be a part of preparing Aldersgate for a season of life-changing ministry by volunteering at the Spring Work Day! We’ll be setting up the waterfront and putting in the docks, cleaning, raking, painting, opening cabins, preparing and setting up program equipment and all-around preparing for an absolutely incredible summer season. Projects large and small will help upgrade facilities and prepare for seasonal programming. Bring your family, friends, and a servant’s heart ready to work! Saturday May 18th from 9-4. An RSVP is encouraged, so we can carpool. Contact Tina in the office.
The 2019 summer camping season is fast approaching, registration is already open. Our church will be awarding scholarships to help allow children and families to attend the Methodist Retreat Centers of the Upper New York Conference. A week of camp can be a life changing experience. The cost can surprise people, to help enable participation, our church pays the balance for a child for a week at camp or for a family attending Family Life Weekend. Families will be responsible for the first $75; the church will pay the rest as funds allow. Pick up a form from the back of the sanctuary, fellowship hall, or outside the office. If you would like to help send a child to camp please use the special envelope located to the newsletter or in the back of the sanctuary.
UMW News-District Event
The Spring Gathering is Saturday May 18that Grace United Methodist Church in Massena. We will gather at 9:00am, lunch will be served. Approximate end time is 2:00 pm. The program will be presented by a speaker from Renewal House. It is hoped that carpooling will be available. Directions to the church, program information and lunch details are available from Laura Conklin 315- 276-4081. Please let her know if you plan to attend. If you are interested to know more about Renewal House, visit the website at: http://www.slvrenewalhouse.org/
Spring Household Sale
Annual household sale will be held Saturday June 1st from 9am-4pm in Fellowship Hall. Volunteers for set up should arrive Friday May 31st around 1:30pm. You do not need to be a member of UMW to help out. When you are doing your spring cleaning, keep the UMW Household Sale in mind. We are looking for donations of dishes, cookware, art, books, and any items that can be used in a home. Please no clothes or shoes. You may drop off items to the church starting on Saturday May 11th.
In Conjunction with the household sale the finance committee is hosting a Chicken BBQ Saturday June 1st from Noon till sold out. You can call the church office before May 30 to reserve your chicken, a guaranteed way to make sure we don’t run out before you get here. Menu: 1⁄2 Chicken, Baked beans, Slaw and Potatoes. Cost: 10.00.
Special Sunday Offering
Native American Ministries Sunday, (May 4th this year) is a very special celebration that United Methodist churches across the country celebrate every year. With a special offering on a designated Sunday in May, we honor and empower the Native Americans in our church community. Native Americans — with many unique languages and cultures — honor Jesus and live as Christians led by a contingent of primarily Native American pastors. It is a joy to celebrate and embolden their congregations on this day! Here are five reasons we believe in the importance of this Special Sunday:
We are committed to racial reconciliation. The struggles of First Americans are often invisible. As a result of historic and ongoing institutional racism, our Native communities experience high rates of poverty and suicide. As United Methodists, we have vowed to seek reconciliation with Native Americans and are committed to represent their community in a way that befits their proud heritage. This offering specifically supports Native American seminarians, strengthens, develops and equips Native American rural, urban and reservation congregations, ministries and communities and annual conference Native American Ministries.
We believe in funding justice efforts for Native Americans. “Social justice” is more than a buzzword for United Methodist congregations. With this offering, we are saying YES to creating programs that enrich, empower and educate. So many people want to support our First Americans but don’t know where to start. Giving generously on this Sunday is an easy way to show our support.
When we give together, we do more.
Connectionalism is a high priority for our denomination. We believe in joining together, as congregations, to celebrate together on six Special Sundays throughout the year. This particular Special Sunday is the biggest impact we make together for Native American communities.
We believe in taking care of our own family. As United Methodists, we are committed to serving and giving all over the world, but we are just as committed to caring for our own communities. 1 Timothy 5:8 challenges us to take care of our own family. On Native American Ministries Sunday, we do just that.
We want to model generosity for our communities and future generations. Generosity leaves a legacy. When we give as a community, we tell our local community that we care. When we give as a community to diverse causes, we are making sure people know that our churches are externally focused. We believe in diversity, and we believe in supporting all people. On this day, we make sure to support our First Americans.
For those considering the bus trip to Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster Pennsylvania, you may pick up a flyer from the office. There are still some seats available, if you are interested please contact Tina in the office to have your name put on the list. If you have talked to Tina about the trip but have not paid a deposit yet please contact the office to confirm your seat. For those people on the payment plan, your next installment is due on May 6th.