A couple days ago I had the privilege of gathering with my worship team to celebrate Epiphany. Thursday nights are normally rehearsal nights for us, but the first Thursday of each month we forgo rehearsal and the whole team gathers together for fellowship and worship through Scripture reading, prayer, communion, and sometimes song. Since, then, we don’t have a rehearsal that week, we plan something acoustic and small for the following Sunday that wouldn’t require practice.

We’ve been doing this for only three months now, and already I’m seeing it impact our team powerfully. The simple heart of these meetings is to chase after God with all we’ve got. Our hope is for us as worship leaders to participate deeply in the same kind of worship we desire for everyone else in our weekly worship gatherings. As a worship pastor, these Thursday nights at the beginning of each month have energized and excited my heart greatly. I see God shaping and transforming us with the Gospel, cultivating a desire for Christ and an expectancy of communing with Him when we gather together. I’m learning that our team can’t live without this.

Our focus a couple nights ago was the story of Jesus' baptism in John 1. As we immersed ourselves in this story, something came to life in me. It may only be a few verses long, but John the Baptist's experience here paints a perfect picture of what our corporate worship gatherings should look like: the revealing, receiving, responding to, and retelling of the Gospel. In verse 33 we learn of John having been told, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” When John sees the Spirit fall and remain on Jesus, he immediately receives Him as God’s Son, humbles himself, and declares, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Jesus is revealed to John as the Son of God and Savior of the world. The Spirit revealed this to him, and continues to reveal Jesus to us today. Christ is seen and the Gospel is proclaimed through everything in our worship gatherings - our songs, Scripture readings, teachings, prayers, fellowship and communion. In our worship planning we do everything we can to ensure that the content of our prayers, songs and art paint deep and meaningful pictures of God’s salvation in Christ.

When Christ is revealed, John receives Him as God’s Son with childlike faith. He does not question the revelation given him, but fully embraces it with all he is. I am praying for this kind of faith. As the Gospel is declared to us in our worship gatherings, may we receive it not just with cognitive assent, but also with faith that moves us to be and act accordingly.

This revelation humbles John. Who is he to even untie Jesus' sandal straps, let alone baptize him? But with most likely a mixture of reverent fear and humble joy, John baptizes the Savior of the world. When the Spirit helps us see God rightly, our depravity is exposed and the only right response is humble thanksgiving for the great work of salvation accomplished for us by the Father's sending of His one and only Son.

John wells up with this revelation of Christ as God’s Son, unable to contain himself. He bursts out, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” The Gospel demands our response, a life declaring the glory and salvation of our God in Jesus Christ our Lord. But this proclamatory response doesn’t end with the worship service. Like John we have seen and now testify that Jesus is the Son of God. We are sent out from the worship gathering to retell the Gospel story that has been revealed to us and embody it before a world in need of God’s rescue.

May God continue manifesting Himself to us and shaping our worship with His amazing Gospel story.

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