Category Archives: worship

Reflections on a Pandemic—and Worship

Serving as pastor in the congregation in which I work here in Newberg, Oregon, is a joy. I am particularly thankful for the way in which the saints (which is what the Bible calls believers) reflect the grace and comfort of God. In the broader world I see fear and panic on one side, and on the other, some dismissing safety concerns as irrelevant, or at least as not applying to them. The members of the church have been reaching out to one another (by phone or email) as well as looking for ways to be of help in the community at large. They are taking seriously the danger of spreading the COVID 19 inadvertently and are abiding by the necessary restrictions. At the same time, they refuse to live in fear. They know One who has conquered the grave. I am thankful for their encouraging, servant hearts.

This is a congregation that loves to gather for worship. Yet this past Lord’s Day (and apparently for some time to come) they could not, both because that would have put others in danger, and because of restrictions on gatherings. Since we could not gather in our building where we usually worship, we moved to live streaming. We cannot not worship. We will not stop worshiping. But we have changed how we gather for worship. It has been a learning curve for me, who has never put together a YouTube video, much less live streamed. Although the morning was a bumpy start, by the time of the evening service it seemed to be coming together, thanks to helpful advice from others.

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Warfare and Worship

What can you do when the evil one stirs up persecution against the church? How do you handle it when the battle against your own sin seems to be faltering? Exodus 17:8-16 is more than just a snippet of Israelite history focusing on an obscure battle. In Sunday morning’s message at Trinity Presbyterian Church we see that God connects the battle against the Amalekites with the worship his people give him. Moses, overlooking the battle from a hill, holds up his staff in prayer.

staff-in-hand“Because Israel was to be the Lord’s, because Israel’s hand was to be on the throne of the Lord, because Israel was to confess that its cause was the Lord’s cause, the war against Amalek would never end. If we are the Lord’s we must never call a halt to the fight against sin, the devil and all God’s enemies. If we make peace, we will lose the battle. Fortunately, the Lord Jesus Christ never relaxed in that struggle, but fought it to the very end. He is still waging war out of heaven. He will make sure that those who belong to Him wage this battle continually. And He will give them the victory, for He has conquered and He will always conquer.” (S. G. DeGraaf, Promise and Deliverance, Vol. 1, p. 293).