People can talk about reigniting true worship on Earth all they want, but until each individual makes a choice in their own lives, nothing’s happening, according Anglican bishop Reverend Laish Boyd.
Boyd, who closed out the fourth and final night of the Anglican Diocese of The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands Lenten Mission, challenged people to “hear” the power with which the Scriptures speak to them through the four well-known biblical characters – Jonah, Gideon, Simon Peter and the Apostle Paul – whose stories he referenced throughout his sermon as examples of giving all to Jesus.
“Do you identify with any of them?
“Do any of their stories challenge you?
“Do you see where you can do better?
“Can you imagine what God has in store for you, if you would allow yourself to give your all?
“These are serious questions because we can speak about reigniting true worship here on Earth all we want, said Boyd whose message centered around the topic ‘True Worship Demands My All’ – but, until as individuals we make a choice and until we follow that choice with actions in our lives that support that choice, then it’s just a waste of time – it’s just words. We can talk about reigniting true worship here on Earth all we want, but, until as individuals we make a choice in our own lives, nothing’s happening.”
During the virtual Lenten Mission, Boyd challenged Anglicans to “hear” the power with which the Scriptures speak to them through the four lives.
“I challenge us to receive God’s help so freely offered in our journey in him. Laying aside what is behind and straining forward to what God has in store for us.”
The theme of this year’s Mission held after the 2020 cancellation due to the pandemic was “Reigniting True Worship Here on Earth” in keeping with the 2021 Diocesan theme, “Reigniting True Worship”.
“During 2020, the church and the wider community of our two countries – The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands – experienced great disruption: curfews, lockdowns, times when in-person gathering was not allowed; this affected our regular corporate worship life, and many parish and fellowship activities.”
At the same token, the bishop said 2020 allowed them to be creative and taught them many new things for which they are grateful. And that it did not separate people from God because he said God is still God, and they are still the church. But he admitted that it was a challenge.
“What it did though was challenge us to focus on and practice what really matters. To get down to the bedrock of our faith, which is our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Though the numbers were less and ministry activities fewer, we are called to worship God in spirit and in truth – to give him our all and to be more serious about our worship of God than ever before. There is a need to get excited and re-excited about God, personal devotion, corporate worship and involvement in ministry – thus the call to reignite true worship here on Earth, the theme of this Lenten Mission.”
On night one, Canon Mark Kendall spoke on “The God of New Beginnings” in which he spoke to it never being too late for a person to recommit, get back on track, and reignite that flame of worship, because God is full of new beginnings and opportunities for new beginnings.
On night two, The Reverend Willish Johnson presented on the topic, “The God Who Commissions and Empowers Me” focusing on God giving his people the strength to serve him as they should in their everyday lives.
Night three, Father Kirkland Russell spoke on “The God Who Gives Himself Invites Me to Give Myself” – and as Jesus gave himself, he invites his people to do the same.
After the first three nights, Boyd said the sermons drove home the urgency for people into their personal lives, and he tied it all together with the topic – “True Worship Demands My All” – as he also encouraged people to forget what lies behind them and strain forward.
“God did not waste any part of Paul – his background, his training, his citizenship, his mind, or even his weaknesses. Are you willing to let God do the same for you? You will never know all he can do with you, until you allow him to have all that you are,” said the bishop.
He reminded people that the Bible is a wonderful book that continues to speak to every age and circumstance, with a timelessness that he described as mind-boggling.
“Some of the greatest lessons of the Scriptures come to us in the epistles in the New Testament.”
He said Paul advocates joy and rejoicing – an emotion of great delight and happiness, caused by something good and lasting.
“Joy is the quiet confidence and assurance of God working in our lives – no matter what. So, it is not tied to what we have or who we have. It depends on Christ.”
Boyd reminded Anglicans that Paul chose to serve Jesus and at the same time faced many challenges and painful experiences, including being imprisoned, but that he emphasized that nothing compared to the joy of serving Christ, and that he was still pressing on to what God had in store for him.
“He was committed to putting the past behind him, his former life and his sufferings since conversion, and he was pressing on to the call to which Jesus had called him. God was demanding from him, more than Paul had already given, because Paul was capable of more. God was calling and Paul was prepared to give his all. True worship demands my all.”
The Anglican bishop said a demand is an insistent, pressing request with no room for the one who is demanded to reconsider, or not do what is asked.
“True worship does not give us a choice – it demands. True worship demands this all – that’s very clear. But what is my all?”
Boyd said a person giving his all involves pushing to overcome great odds sometimes.
“Giving your all sometimes involves fighting against our human nature, our weaknesses, and our bad habits. Sometimes, giving your all involves making the ultimate sacrifice. It may not be death, but something big for you.”
He questioned whether they as believers are giving their all and pushing to overcome great odds. Or whether they are fighting against their human nature, weaknesses and bad habits, or looking at a colossal sacrifice.
Like Jonah, he said sometimes people hear God calling, but they run in the opposite direction, or they hear God asking them to do something, and they ignore him.
“Like Jonah, we need to stop running, stop ignoring and turn back to God’s call if we are going to give God the all that he demands.”
He questioned whether their running or ignoring was getting in the way of them giving their all.
Or whether they need assurances, like Gideon.
“Sometimes when God calls us, we are unsure and we doubt ourselves. We see ourselves in terms of our weaknesses, our shortcomings, our past, what the people say about us – some which is true mind you. We see everything except that God is calling us and that God knows what we are capable of. At those times, like Gideon, we may need reassurance, nothing wrong with that, it’s only human. Like Gideon, don’t be afraid to ask for a sign in your life, or some reassurance, some confirmation. That is why we have to talk to each other and listen to each other and counsel each other, because sometimes God’s reassurance or confirmation to a friend or a schoolmate or a coworker comes through us”
If they need a sign, reassurance, more confidence, or encouragement, he said God would give it to them.
Simon Peter’s story of walking on the water Boyd said is a lesson for people with respect to their commitment.
“When we are called to give our all, sometimes we do get scared. We start off okay, but when the wind and waves begin to pick up, they spook us; they unnerve us, and we falter. But if you make that commitment to Jesus, Jesus will help you. He will catch you when you stumble.”
Boyd said sometimes people do let fear stop them from giving their all, because of fear of the unknown, fear of what could happen, fear of what will happen, fear of what happened before – but he said the God who demands sends Jesus to catch his people when they start to sink.
“That is why we have to be there for each other, because sometimes Jesus uses us to catch that sinking brother or sister.
The Anglican bishop said Saint Paul demonstrates that people giving God their all sometimes demands a total shift, a complete turnaround, an about face, forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.
“Many of us are afraid to answer God’s call, and to give our all because we think that we cannot change. We think that we cannot change bit by bit overtime. We feel that people won’t accept us, that even God cannot do anything with us anymore, and nothing could be further from the truth.”
He said believers should be encouraging and affirming the change they’re trying to make.
“Sometimes we don’t encourage people enough. We don’t affirm them enough; and God uses us to touch other people, so where do we get off at by putting someone else down? Because we know what God has done for us in terms of forgiveness, and we know that God is still putting up with so much from us.”