Sulu: Master of Navigation

Space…the final frontier.

“These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise.  It’s five-year mission, to explore strange new worlds.  To seek out new life and new civilizations.  To boldly go where no man has gone before!” Those words graced my television screen a lot growing up as a child.  My mom was a big fan of Star Trek and I would watch it with her after school.  Our local station KTLA had it on in the afternoon and my mom would sit on the couch or the bed while I would watch from the floor.  I loved the adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the rest of the crew and apparently, I wasn’t the only one.  I went to my first Star Trek convention while I was in college in the early 90’s, bought a Starfleet Academy hockey team jersey, and realized I was a novice compared to these people.  Which is why William Shatner’s appearance on Saturday Night Live was so funny.  I could totally relate.  Shatner if you don’t already know played Captain Kirk on Star Trek.  And in his opening monologue he mentioned how Star Trek is popular all over the world and been translated in a variety of languages.  “Of course each country translates it to fit their own cultural experience,” he said.  “For instance, in Japan I understand the show is called Sulu: Master of Navigation.”

Easter worship with the flowering of the cross

Everyone comes to Star Trek with their own perspective.

Some like Kirk best, some like Spock.  Some like to avoid the main characters and go for Scotty or Uhura or even Sulu.  Some think Star Trek: The Next Generation is better than The Original Series (as it’s known – seriously), while others make a pitch for Deep Space Nine as the best Trek show.  Even though this global franchise has touched the lives of millions around the world, different people are drawn to it for different reasons.  It’s the same with worship. We tend to think of worship as being “THE SERMON” with a bunch of other stuff around it, but the truth is we connect to God in MANY different ways while we are together.  Worship isn’t just sharing our interpretation of the Bible, it’s all of the different elements put together.  From singing to praying to communion to fellowship – all of these different components are part of the worship experience.  And each of us is drawn to worship for different reasons.  We get something out of worship sometimes because of what someone shares about the Word of God, but also a particular song rouses our spirit.  The way someone prays for you or about a loved one can touch your heart, or you might feel your “heart strangely warmed” when you come up for communion.  Or someone sitting next to you might bless you with a hand on your shoulder or a kind word or an attentive ear in fellowship.  All of these are blessings and praise to God.  Our reading helps us to see how the Bible lifts up all of these things as part of the worship experience.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:15-17

One of the many beautiful creations from the Ikebana group

What worship looks like is different in different parts of the Bible.

Psalm 150 talks about worship through music.  The letter from James to the church talks about the importance of prayer and singing and confession (James 5:13-16).  The book of Acts shares a vision for the early church filled with teaching, fellowship, communion, and prayer (Acts 2:42-47).  And all of it is valuable to God.  What’s important about worship is recognizing and lifting praise to our Creator. Sharing in his word and lifting praises to him however that happens.  At one church I was a part of, we had a blanket ministry and we would decorate the Sanctuary from time to time with these blankets.  Someone would bring them up and we would say a prayer over them for the life these blankets would wrap themselves around.  And that is worship.  When Paul wrote that “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,” he was talking about blanket ministry, too.  I don’t know if you notice but every Sunday after Aiko hosts an Ikebana class, there is always a fresh arrangement on the altar as a tribute and an offering to God of the gifts this group brings to the church.  That is worship, too.

Our honorees and their families

Sometimes I feel like the quarterback of the football team.

Good or bad, the pastor often gets the credit or blame for what happens in worship.  But like on a football team, if there was no one to block for him, he would never be able to throw the ball.  If there were no receivers, there wouldn’t be anyone to catch the ball.  If there were no running backs, there wouldn’t be anyone to carry the ball.  And if there were no defense, that would be one tired quarterback trying in vain to just keep the game close.  While a good quarterback sets the tone for a team, he is only one person and it takes a team to get it done.  I am so grateful we have an amazing team.  It’s so easy to lose sight of how many people it takes to make a church work the way it’s supposed to, it’s good to stop once in a while, recognize, and give thanks to God for people who give of themselves so we can gather together every week.  We should make that a regular practice – not just in worship but in life.  Stop and give thanks, to God and to those in our lives who make life possible.

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