Archive for ‘Chapel’

Our Spiritual Worship

by   |  10.05.16  |  Chapel

Our Spiritual Worship

ACU Graduate Chapel – 9/14/16

Judy Siburt

In 1967 my husband, Charles Siburt, and I came to ACU for graduate school to prepare for ministry to the church. I earned a Masters in Education/ School Counseling and Charlie an M.Div. While here I taught school, and Charlie preached in Lingleville over by Stephenville. We were rich students….we had no idea how rich our time at ACU truly was and how it would change our lives forever. We had the experience of studying under the likes of: Lemoine Lewis, Abraham Malherbe, Everett Ferguson, Carl Spain, Tom Olbricht, John Willis and others.

New worlds opened to us. We were taught how to think, how to learn, and how to develop the life of the mind. It allowed us to make lifelong relationships with people who shared our calling, our values, and our commitment to ministry. We began to form a “good” theology that included knowing and enjoying God and training ourselves so the communities where we would contribute would flourish.

You students are answering the same call to ministry we responded to almost 50 years ago. You are learning what it means to truly live out spiritual worship. You get to talk about God. You are challenged to learn from others who have thought about God, read about God, and spoken about God over the centuries. You get to dialogue daily with contemporaries who also have committed to live out God’s good and pleasing will for their lives.

As one who has experienced this process as the wife and ministry partner of the late Charles Siburt, as one who has raised two sons who both sat where you are today as M.Div. students, I can assure you the process of “renewing your minds,”

learning more of God, is worthwhile. It will bear fruit throughout your life IF the renewal of your minds leads you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice. For the Apostle Paul, knowledge cannot be isolated to one’s brain. It is how you behave especially when in secret, when no one is watching. How you live out your worship is to love God and love your neighbors, and to remember that loving others shows our love to God.

In Philippians 4, Paul gives us tips on how to live out true worship; how to be distinct and different from the world.

In verse 4 – Rejoice, be full of Joy. Not like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, “It’s too cold, it’s too hot, it’s too dry, it’s too rainy.” He is never satisfied. Be grateful! So others, by your joy, know that Christ is in you.

Be considerate of others and think of others before yourselves. Be gentle, not harsh and impatient.

Do not worry and fret. As Christ said over and over again, “Do not fear.”

Then the God of Peace will be with you. We cannot be at peace with God if we are not at peace with our brothers and sisters on this earth.

In Verse 9 – Keep practicing all the good that you have learned. I like that word “practice.” I had a friend who was a very good tennis player all of his life, even up into his eighties. He quoted Billie Jean King, “I like tennis because there is no such thing as a perfect game. But I kept playing and working on my game.” My friend Wiley was a tanned handsome athletic guy with a head full of beautiful white hair and a sense of fun that blessed all who knew him. He said, “I decided to be good at tennis. Along the way I would keep finding good teachers and coaches to help me. Every time I took a lesson something clicked in my head and I got better and I would remember things that I had learned before.”

In Amos 8, the prophet lets the people “have it.” It is not their worship in question, but their behavior after leaving their place of worship. They would sing, “Come, Let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our, our maker.” Then would leave and go about their “busy religion” forgetting what they had just learned. What they wanted was praise for themselves and they used the poor in order to be recognized as generous. They would crush the needy and they lived greedy, and self-centered lives. The prophet makes clear that the problem was their attitudes and behaviors. It was the problem of their minds and hearts.

Someone said, “We have a far greater need to be reminded than to be informed.” If the process of transformation you are engaged in does not lead to new action and new behavior then there is a chance you could be like those Amos left in a “sea of mud.” Your time spent here at ACU will be in vain.

Let’s let Paul remind us of true worship from Romans 12. Pastor Eddie Sharp calls this passage “Christian Kindergarten.” You may not remember the poster going around years ago, “All I need to know I learned in Kindergarten.” Saying “Please” and “Thank you.” “Play nice with others” and “Wash your hands after using the restroom.” Stuff like that.

Christian Kindergarten from Paul:

  • Don’t pretend to love others….really love them.
  • Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.
  • Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.
  • Rejoice in our confident hope.
  • Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
  • When God’s people are in need be ready to help them.
  • Always be eager to practice hospitality, and hospitality is not just having some one over for a meal. It means taking them on as a project, to be of genuine service in their time of need.
  • “Keep putting into practice all you have learned and received from me…then the God of Peace will be with you.”

The good news is that the process of “renewing our minds” and “preparing our minds for action” is not solely left up to you and me. This is not a self-help process. It is the work of the Spirit of God.

May God renew your minds and prepare you for action. May this season of formation prepare you all to present your body as a living sacrifice. May you submit to the work of God’s Spirit and may you be equipped to lead lives worthy of the gospel.

In the book of John, Jesus says: “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you everything…I will send Him to you and he will lead you in all truth.” John 14:26; 16:13

And we can live out our spiritual worship everyday.


For our benediction today I ask you to view this 15th century Russian icon, “The descent of the Holy Spirit”

Here we see the Miracle of Pentecost and as we observe this lovely rendering may we be reminded of the gift of God’s Spirit given to ALL

Let’s Pray:

Dear God hear our prayer as we remember that you are:

God for us, we call you “Father.”
God alongside us, we call you “Jesus.”
God within us, we call you “Holy Spirit.”
Together, you are the Eternal Mystery
That enables, enfolds, and enlivens all things,
Even us and even me.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.


(Richard Rohr)




A Word of Exhortation

by   |  08.24.16  |  Chapel

A Word of Exhortation

Hebrews 13

Call to Worship

Welcome to Grad Chapel. Our text today, for those of you who grew up like I did, always brings a smile to my face. I grew up at church. My grandfather was an elder, my father was an elder, my mother was a Bible school teacher four quarters out of four both Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. I grew up in a home where babysitters came to my house so that my parents could go to Cottage Meetings to watch filmstrips. I started preaching when I was 13. Anytime I had a sermon and the preacher okayed the message, I could preach on Sunday nights at Elmwood Avenue Church of Christ in Lafayette Indiana. So if you grew up like I did, and I know some of you didn’t, there emerges insider language. I’ve used quite a bit of insider language already. Our text today makes us insiders smile for it is the text about entertaining angels in their underwear. And for a little kid, an angel wearing boxers or briefs is funny.

  • I didn’t grow up where the insider language, “our text for today,” referred to a lectionary, a set of Sunday readings laid out not only for your church but also for all the churches that embraced the Christian Year as its liturgical calendar.
  • Continuing for the fourth year, Grad Chapel is going to follow the lectionary in order to provide us a rhythm that for all of you who come regularly to this place through the academic year can worship our God and in the words of last Sunday’s lectionary text you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.
  • The Lectionary does not follow the academic year. The academic year begins towards the end of the Christian Year, during the season of Pentecost, Ordinary Time of Year C, Proper 17. And our text for this coming Sunday is Hebrews 13.
  • Our text exhorts us with “a word of exhortation” to welcome you here in mutual love, for who knows, there might be angels among us… And they might be wearing their underwear.


22 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.

  1. “A Word of Exhortation” – it would not be Hebrews if we did not go back to the OT for some examples. The Deuteronomist places Moses with his GPS saying, “You are Here.” The little blinking dots says, “You are on the border between here and there and before you go forward, let’s look back to where and why you’ve been.” And Moses offers words of exhortation to the camp of Israel, words of memory and hope. Throughout the Deuteronomic history, words of exhortations, preaching, carries the story forward. Words that not only remind God’s people of God’s promises and mighty acts, but also words of warning, words of hope, and words of possibilities. Hebrews 13 reminds me of Moses and the Children of Israel who lived in the safety of a camp, protected by community and family, and who were exhorted to embrace the challenges and opportunities before them.
  2. And the preacher in Hebrews replicates that tradition with his word of exhortation saying, “Hold on to your faith in Jesus, the author, pioneer, and perfecter of our faith.” And the preacher here makes an allusion, 10 We have an altar from which those who officiate in the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. 13 Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. And those who know the insider language know that “going outside the camp” is an exhortation that calls them to a different kind of ministry, a cruciformed ministry, a ministry of challenge and possibility. Words that call them, in his words, “torture.”
  3. And, as all good preachers do, this preacher gives us a list of concrete expressions of those challenges and possibilities. Listen again to his list…

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels unaware. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” So we can say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?”

Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

This preacher chooses this list because these challenges and possibilities connect to the audience’s immediate context. As you begin this academic year, may this old list of challenges and opportunities guide you. Let this word be a word of exhortation.

  • Who among does not need to hear about … Mutual love in a divisive world so full of “we” versus “them” rhetoric, discriminatory and hateful words that only build walls.
  • Who among does not need to hear about … Hospitality in a wall building society where the strangers are cast in the role of enemy and fear of others is highly prized.
  • Who among does not need to hear about … Remembering those in prison especially those who are systemically profiled as undesirable and disproportionately removed from our neighborhoods.
  • Who among does not need to hear about … keeping our marriages and other covenant relationships pure and undefiled. In the midst of so much temporary and mobile connections, where “hooking up” is glorified.
  • Who among does not need to hear about … contentment, especially when all we hear about security is only in terms of social, national, or financial.
  • Who among does not need to hear about … leaders who are worthy of imitation because of their faith.

So as we begin this academic year together, with two final exhortations …

15 Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.


20 Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

ACU Graduate Chapel Sermon (Ben Fike): January 20

by   |  03.17.10  |  Chapel, Church, God with us, Hope, Hospitality, Jesus, Justice, Mission of God, Students

Every Wednesday, we meet for worship together in the Chapel on the Hill. Sometimes students speak. Here is a sermon by one of them, Ben Fike, who is the preacher for the Maryneal, Texas Church of Christ. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Matthew 2:1-12 – Laying our Gifts Before the King

by Ben Fike

“The church has just entered the liturgical season of Epiphany one week ago today. The Feast of Epiphany in the Western tradition is associated with this story of the wise men coming to Jesus, the first gentiles who come to worship the child king. Today we join our sisters and brothers the world over in our hearing and proclaiming of this text in this season.

I can’t read this story without thinking of my mom’s collection of nativity sets. She probably just took them down a week or two ago, but during Christmas they’re all over the house. Just little miniature versions of the birth of Christ spread out all over every bookshelf and table. The raggedy looking shepherds, the docile ox and lamb, the surprisingly calm and serene looking Mary and Joseph, little baby Jesus, no crying he makes, asleep in the manger. Blonde, and looking quite Scandanavian. And of course the wise men, all exotic and strange with enormous headgear and camels and robes and big bushy beards, bearing gifts.

But although this popularized version of the nativity may fly some places, we know better don’t we? We know better than that naive conflation of Matthew and Luke’s gospels bringing together Shepherds and Wise Men and Livestock in an ad hoc, irresponsible kind of way. We know better, that this story of the wise men bowing down to Jesus is not serene and precious and cute. It is, in fact, subversive to the point that it will directly contribute to a vengeful and maniacal king massacring thousands of innocents to squelch the perceived threat of the child born King of the Jews these wise men have come to worship. And we know better homiletically than to cast ourselves as the distant floating observers looking down on the tiny scene as if Jesus were a insect and we were a bear.

No, WE know better than that. This is a story we must enter. This story is in someway our story. More »