Archives For Worship

As I scroll through the Rio 2016 app on my phone, soaking up every video highlight, I wonder what makes the summer Olympics so mesmerizing. Maybe their infrequency helps them resist assimilation into the normalcy of life that is Sunday afternoon football or Monday night hockey. And I wonder about the inner life of Olympians. What’s it like to be Michael Phelps commuting home after one of those long days we all have, when nobody’s watching and everything goes wrong, wondering “Why am I doing this? Does it really matter?”

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Sometimes I doubt the significance of my work as a nurse practitioner. And some of my stay-at-home friends wonder whether parenting and housekeeping is doing enough. Others feel unfulfilled in their work at the bank, school, or restaurant. But what about people who tumble and jump and swim for a living? Are the Olympics just another version of gladiator fights, less gruesome but equally excessive and ultimately pointless?  


I don’t think so. While Simone Biles’s life as an American gymnast might look nothing like mine, she goes to work just like I do. If you’ve followed this blog, you’ve heard me talk about work as one of the ways we unfold God’s hidden potential in creation, displaying it for others to see and using it for their good, so that they can worship God more than they did before Continue Reading…

I’m thrilled to have Annette Uza, a friend from church, kicking off a new series of blogs about how people find God in their work. These guest posts will run on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month. Subscribe on the right to get these posts delivered directly to your inbox. And, if you have a story to share, I’d love to hear it

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On my fifty-third birthday I realized that my dad was only four years older than me when he died. As I faced the possibility of meeting Jesus than soon, my position as Director of Productions in a flavor company suddenly lost its appeal. I wanted my life to matter for eternity, so I decided to resign and find a job where I could really serve God.

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I applied for a chaplain residency program and for the next two years clocked fifty hours a week at the hospital before dashing to both of my part-time jobs, one at the flavor company. I worked every weekend and holiday without a single day off. The schedule nearly consumed me, but as I sat in the emergency room with family members, holding their hands and praying with them while their loved one lay on the trauma table getting bullets extracted and head wounds stitched up, I believed my work mattered to God in a way that my old job never could Continue Reading…

My friend felt guilty. A grad student and barely able to pay rent, he didn’t have enough money to tithe and worried that he was disappointing God. As I listened to the strain in his voice, it struck me that Jesus never taught about tithing.


Jesus’ silence on the subject is startling considering that money was one of his favorite topics. His voice fills the gospels with financial advice, stories about bosses, investors, and trust fund babies gone wrong. He admonished a rich businessman, commended a poor widow, and sent Peter to find their tax money in the mouth of a fish.

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In the church’s current fascination with tithing, it seems we’ve lost the breadth of God’s interest in our money. We’ve settled for an Old Testament rule, adding it to our checklist of ways to please God; but, by drawing a line around a part of our income and packing it off to the church, an orphanage in Africa, or the homeless shelter downtown, we’ve restricted the scope God’s interest in our money and, as a result, shrunk our relationship with of him Continue Reading…

When I first saw The Tortured Christby Brazilian sculptor Guido Rocha, it didn’t ask my permission, it just went ahead and seared itself into my subconscious. Every couple of months since then, The Tortured Christ pops up, uninvited. All of the sudden he’s there, blood splattering on the carpet of my brain and his screams ricocheting off the walls. It’s rather uncomfortable. 

I’d prefer a visit from the placid Jesus–the one who’s taking his torture like a champ, the Jesus that dangles on the end of necklaces, Jesus-asleep-on-the-cross. But, this Jesus keeps showing up–skin retracting between his ribs, muscles seizing in agony–and, honestly, when he stops by, I don’t start humming worship songs or try to gaze deeply into his eyes. I want to look away.


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The truth is, there’s a lot of things I’d rather look away from–not just Rocha’s Christ–11.4 million Syrians who have been displaced from their homes. Four and half million of them eke out an existence on the border of other countries, without heat in the winter or basic health care, relying on UN food coupons to keep them just beyond the grip of starvation.   


I’d rather not notice the man who holds a plastic cup at the intersection several blocks from my house. It gets complicated to think about the addictions that might be driving him to the streets, the shattered family he represents, or the burden of what it means for me to get involved Continue Reading…

Some days, the trudge from nine to five feels like trekking through a spiritual no-man’s land. Maybe I should resign, I think, and move to Nepal and pass out copies of the Gospel of John. Then my work could count for the Kingdom. 


When I find myself thinking this way, I imagine the Apostle Paul. He’d probably say, “Wait a minute. I said, ‘Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’ (1 Cor. 10:31).” 


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Whether we pump gas in Toronto, teach at the University of Illinois, or run an orphanage in Sudan, our work can worship God. But, how? 


We worship God at work when we DEPEND on him for Continue Reading…

I sat in front of my laptop. The sun was still snoozing under the horizon and I was reading Exodus, one of those books from the front half of the Bible. Actually, I wasn’t reading. I was floating half-conscious over paragraphs about alters, oil, and priests and wondering why I had left the land of sleep for this. 


But, then my eyes snagged on something. “And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty.” (Ex. 28:2, ESV). 


Wait, I thought, beauty matters to God? 


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After all the years I spent in Sunday school, I felt pretty good about how well I could predict God. If he was selecting qualities he wanted in worship—his first draft pick would be glory. Subsequent rounds he’d choose things like love, faith, and obedience. But, it had never crossed my mind that God’s idea of worship wasn’t complete without beauty Continue Reading…

Sensing the Way into Worship

smgianotti  —  February 24, 2015

Filming Much Ado About Nothing (2012) in black and white worked for Joss Whedon–in minimizing the visual input he managed to accentuate the drama. But this technique doesn’t always work, especially when it comes to worship. 


Reading through the Bible, I get the distinct impression that God means to impress the Gospel on our senses. In foreshadowing Jesus’s death on the cross, God told the Israelites to smear lamb blood on their door posts (Exodus 12:1-13).  At Mount Sinai, Moses showered the people with bulls’ blood as a sign of God’s covenant with them (Exodus 24:3-8). During the Last Supper, Jesus invited his followers to drink wine, stating that it was the new covenant in his blood (Luke 22:20). 


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My childhood church offered grape juice at communion, so I remember (quite clearly) my first sip of vino at a cousin’s church. A streak of warm flowed down my throat and nestled into my empty belly. A couple minutes later a soft fizz started dancing in my brain. Physically speaking, that one sip changed me. 

Continue Reading…