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Something to read

The Lord said to Moses: Tell the Israelites to take for me an offering; from all whose hearts prompt them to give you shall receive the offering for me.

- Exodus 25:1-2.

Something to think about

God asks the Israelites to take an offering of the materials needed for putting together the tabernacle where they will worship him. True worship is always a joint enterprise. We don’t worship God on our own. God is present in our worship.

As the psalmist puts it: ‘God inhabits the praises of his people’ (Psalm 22:3). As we praise God, the Lord is with us and helps us worship.

The condition for the Israelites’ giving was that it should come only from ‘all whose hearts prompt them to give’ (Exodus 25:2b). In other words, the materials had to be freely given, not out of fear or coercion.

‘Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver,’ says Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:7. True worship is from the heart. Not reluctantly or under compulsion.

God is in the detail. Like a master artist or architect, God has carefully planned every detail of everything he wants made. Right down to what it is made from, what wood, what material and what colour. Whilst we shouldn't put ourselves under pressure when we worship or think that our praises won't be received if they aren't 'just right', Exodus 25 suggests that listening for God's direction as we plan worship is important. God will lead us in crafting worship well.

Something to do

Are you offering God what he is worth? Is your singing – whether in or out of tune – from the heart? When you give – whether to the work of the Church or to Christian Aid – does it represent the best of your giving?

And before you worship do you take time to ‘practise the presence of God’ and gain a sense that you are in it together?

Something to pray

Heavenly Father help me in my worship
to submit all my nature to you.

Quicken my conscience by your holiness,

Nourish my mind by your truth,

Purify my imagination by your beauty,

Open my heart to your love,

And accept the submission of my will to your purpose.

And may all this be gathered up in adoration of you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

After William Temple

Adapted from a contribution by Rev Mark Williams, minister in St James’ Church, Uplands, Swansea, Diocese of Brecon and Swansea at the time of writing.