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Worship

May 11, 2011

Sitting on a wooden bench in the little bamboo and palm frond church on the mountain through a 4-hour service last Sunday afforded me plenty of time to think.   The service being in Creole, all I could do at best was from time to time catch the gist of things.  Still I was enjoying it, lost in thoughts carried along by the a capella hymns.  The devotion of this little fellowship had me reflecting on just what it means to worship.  That thread wove its way through the weft of the days that followed and culminated in this brief homily.

Worship by definition is attributing worth to someone or something.  In the context of God it is to recognize that He is worthy.  But I cannot do that without Him first revealing to me what gives Him worth.  Only then can I respond.  Most often, but not always, God reveals Himself when I seek Him.  Other times He just sneaks up on me.

In attempting to unravel the mystery of the character of God my touchstone is the oft-stated Biblical axiom that God is love, expanded upon in 1 John 4.  The nature of God’s love is irrefutably delineated in 1 Corinthians 13.  If anything I hear or read about Him is inconsistent with His perfect love, for me it cannot be true.  I will have no truck with ideas that would distort that nature to accommodate a particular theology.

Worship is dangerous.  It opens me up to the character of God and His purposes in this world, past, present and future.  It demands that I conform myself to what He reveals to me is His character.   It adjures me to align myself with what He reveals to me are His purposes.

Worship demands my whole being.  My heart expresses my gratitude to God for all He is and all He does.  My mind receives His instructions to the limits of my understanding.  My body carries out those instructions to the best of my ability in the world around me.

Worship is not intended to be a private affair in which we gather together only to close our eyes and focus on God while ignoring our neighbour.   When asked, ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.   And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  (Matthew 22:36-40) 1 John 4:20-21 makes the greatest commandment contingent upon the second:  “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.  And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”   I don’t want to get into a debate about just who are my brothers and sisters, but it seems to me that for me to deny that anyone is my brother or sister would be an affront to God who is Father to us all.  Therefore for worship to truly be worship it must pursue justice and seek righteousness for all people.

That is how I see it.

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I came across a statement “hominem unius libri timeo” (I fear the man of a single book) attributed to Thomas Aquinas, and did a little follow up reading.  It intrigues me how people can read the same text and come to diametrically opposed interpretations.  But it does not surprise me.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Anne Lockart permalink
    May 12, 2011 12:02 pm

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on worship. “Worship” is a much discussed and at times much debated in many churches today. I appreciate how you have defined what worship truly is. Content and style is often discussed within our worship team and we have yet to find a happy medium. May I have permission to print and share your thoughts with our team?
    So know that you as well as Chris, Les, Olivia and the mission are daily in our prayers. Be encouraged!

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