What is Worship?

So what is the point of weekly worship?  Why do you go to spend an hour or two hours or half a day or a whole day each week in worship?


It’s an important thing to think about, but one that doesn’t get a lot of air time.  Most people seem to go because that’s what they’ve always done.  Or that’s what their parents did and so they do it too. 


Many do it because that’s what ‘church people’ do.  They go to church.  It means you’re a Christian if you go to church.  Regardless of what you do – or don’t do – the other six days of the week.  Regardless of whether you can remember anything you sang or heard or tasted in church by Monday morning.  The fact that you were there – that you clocked in – means that you’re ok.  Eternity is in the bag.  No worries.


Those that think about worship tend to think of it as something we do.  We go to worship God.  This is the core of the word worship – honor and reverence of something.  And yet, if you believe in God – or whatever – it would seem that your entire life should be an act of worship.  Twenty-four x seven.  Every day.  And if that’s the case, it seems odd that we single out one day and one hour as a time to especially do this. 


Well, that one hour or whatever a week, we’re doing it with other people.  That’s certainly a distinction, and a valid one.  And frankly, few of us live our lives as a continuous worship to God – or much of anything else other than ourselves.  So worship at a specific point once a week is probably important as a time of really thinking about what we should be doing every day.


But this also places all the emphasis on what we do.  And while we certainly are honoring and reverencing God, is that all that’s happening?  Is it unidirectional, our praise to God, and nothing in return?  Or at least, nothing more than any other time or day of the week? 


Or is it really what’s happening in the other direction?  What if we have the direction backwards, or more accurately, it’s bidirectional, instead of unidirectional? 


We offer our thanks and praise to God, but don’t we receive the Word of God?  And in traditional worship understanding (Catholic, and now Lutheran primarily), don’t we also receive the body and blood of Christ with the bread and wine?  We’re receiving God – quite literally, if you’re able to accept it – in an amazing and unique way in worship.  Our worship and honor and praise – while important – pales in comparison with what God does, how He appears to us and even within us during worship.


If that’s the case, if our honor and praise is less important than God’s appearing and entering into us, how does this tweak our understanding of what worship is?  Does it make it less hum drum?  Could we view it as more exciting, more interesting, and more…transformative


That’s the word I keep coming back to as I think about worship, as I struggle and rage against the apathy and inertia that seems to dominate so many congregations.  If we could just remember that the Creator of the Universe is meeting us in a unique and special way.  Not symbolically.  Not in some rationalized, sanitized humanist way.  But in a very real, tangible, audible, taste-able way.  And because of this, because of this intentional gathering together in Him each week, we are transformed.  Continually.  Repeatedly. 


Cleansed.  Forgiven.  Healed.  Empowered.  Equipped.  Encouraged. 


The other six days of the week become the lab where the Holy Spirit prompts us through prayer and Scripture and Christian community as to what that transformative worship experience does in our daily lives.  How it looks in our workplace.  In our classroom.  In our home.  With our parents.  With our children.  With our neighbors.  With our employer and employees.  Every day becomes an opportunity to grapple with how God is leading me to let His light shine, the light that transforms me and calls me and justifies me and day by day, moment by moment, sanctifies me.  Makes me closer to the image of his beloved Son. 


This is what I crave for church to be.  For me.  For you.  For everyone who has lost hope and lost patience and lost interest and lost purpose. 

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