In the Covenant services that I have been privileged to lead through January and into February, I have used a song from Singing the Faith called "Beyond these walls of worship" by Ian Worsfold and Paul Wood (STF 547). It is based on Romans 12:1-2, one of the texts for the Covenant service and is a challenge to us all to live our lives in response to, embody and reflect God's character and mission in all we do and in all our being. One of the phrases that catches my attention is in the last verse,
"Beyond these walls of worship
may your Spirit strengthen us
to make the whole of life our worship
as we witness to your love."
The whole of life our worship – not just the shiny, comfortable and successful parts but the painful, sad and awkward parts too. When things are not going to our plan or we get caught up in, and affected by, the decisions of others. When we are engaging in the mundane or background tasks as much as when we may be 'up front'.
But even then it is not just about who we are in Christ or how we live our lives – we do have a task to do – to witness to God's love, to share that God's kingdom is near, to call for people to turn back to God. How do we reconcile wanting to show everyone the positive and appealing nature of God's love with the fact that life is messy and complex? Being a follower of Christ in many respects is not an easy option; there will be costs – sacrifices – and we need to be honest and open about that when we talk of our faith. But this should also be alongside our sharing of the difference that God has made in our lives, whether that is in our day to day living, spiritual or emotional aspects. It is by the mercies (the compassion) of God that Paul, the writer of the letter to the Romans asks people to present themselves to God – as living sacrifices (the whole of life our worship). Once again we are not doing this solely on our own strength and goodness – we live as genuinely and as worshipfully as we can, God's spirit present as we do. We face God and present ourselves. It is this point of giving our all and facing God as our true selves, the whole of us; the good, the flaws and the in-between, that we become holy and pleasing to God.
Our whole lives matter to God, not just who we are on a Sunday. May we continue in our living to discern what is God's will in who we are and in all that we do. Amen.