It was as if today, Epiphany Sunday, saw the most perfect confluence of themes and opportunities to talk and think about Worship, considered by some to be the greatest lack and the greatest need of the Christian and the Church.

The 8am service, the Adult Study (Worship #1) and the “All Age Gather Together” gave me glorious opportunities to preach and teach about worship. It was inspiring to hear and see Trinity Church filled with the shouts of “Wow” as we considered an expression for worship.

The basic text of the 8am sermon is below the audio; I regret we have no record of the “Worship & Wow” talk at 10am!



Sermon preached at Trinity Church, Newport RI
Sunday January 6th, 2019 – Epiphany
The Reverend Alan Neale
“The Greatest Lack”

Matthew 2:11 “We have come to worship him, to pay him homage.”

Never before have I been so conscious of the presence of worship throughout the Christmas story –
angelic choruses sing in heavenly places “Glory to God in the Highest”;
tired shepherds, inspired by the angels, trek to Bethlehem and there… they worship;
wise men (maybe three) journey across foreign lands all that they may kneel and worship and, of course,
we cannot forget the animals that evocatively kneel before the One who has made them all and with animal voice worship.

And all our Christmas carols enjoin and charge us to come and worship… Christ, the new-born King.

All of my resolutions for 2019 this is, I think, my primary resolve… to worship the Lord as often as possible, wherever possible, in as many ways as possible.

A.W.Tozer was a tremendously powerful Bible teacher and preacher in the 20th century; as his ministry grew so he becomes ever more conscious of the greatest lack of the church… worship. He wrote many books on worship including this one “Worship – The Reason We Were Created”.

On page 13 he writes, “I can safely say, on the authority of all that is revealed in the Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship is not ready for heaven.”

Do I, do you, want to get ready for heaven… worship, worship, worship the Lord?

Matthew 2:11 “We have come to worship him, to pay him homage.”

As we move more deeply, more constantly, more intentionally into worship so a new alertness, sensitivity and awareness grows within our souls.

We learn what is significant in and around our lives; we accept the reality of the world in which we live and we deepen in our understanding of God’s nature and God’s relation to us.

Worship & Significance. Isaiah 60 and Psalm 72 tell of the arduous and long journey embarked upon by the wise men; some have reckoned it to be about 400 miles, maybe two to three weeks by camel or a month on foot. At some point, as their hearts were turned to worship, so they saw their studies, their books, their astrological plans… all as having an absolutely new significance and they responded.

Friends, as you and I surrender afresh to worship this year we will discover a new significance in so much that we have taken for granted, almost tended to overlook and ignore. Ideas and words, plans and friends will suddenly carry a new potential as we repeat these words, “We have come to worship Him, to pay Him homage.

Worship & Realism. You and I know that the pleasant story of the birth of Jesus is ravaged by the anger and jealously of Herod; so beside himself with fury and rage that he orders a massacre of babies. It’s all there in black and white though we would rather put it aside and be done with such horror. The worship of the magi does not blind them to the austere realities of this world and so they respond to the call not to return to Herod.

Friends, as you and I surrender to worship this year we will not therefore be shielded from harm and horror, pain and grief but our worship makes us strong so all this, and more is put into the context of our God who is King.

Worship & Divine Understanding. As the erudite and learned and magical friends set out on their journey I suspect they have little sense of the One to whom they journey to worship. I suspect their packing was done in a fairly inclusive and comprehensive manner; that potential gifts were not limited to gold and frankincense and myrrh. I hope that in the existential moment of connection with the baby they felt they could do no other than offer these bizarre gifts at a stable crib. Yet we know the significance of these gifts… gold for the King, frankincense for the Priest and myrrh for the Savior.

Friends, as you and I surrender to worship this year I promise you that we will gain a deeper understanding of the One we worship, an understanding that will make an impact on our deepest being. Our worship will lead to that sure knowledge that we are children of the King, we are prayed for by the Priest and we are rescued by the Savior.

Yesterday was the Memorial Service for Beth Graham, a loving and gracious light in this Trinity community. Rather an unusual passage was chosen for the second reading… a passage from Revelation, chapter 4 (1-11)… a passage that attempts to describe the unbelievable, constant, varied worship in heaven.

And then I saw it… it wasn’t unusual at all for the words of John reminded me that I have opportunity, even today, to get ready for heaven… let’s get ready even now. AMEN