Saturday, December 1, 2007
AS YOU WORSHIP SO YOU SERVE
As you worship, so you serve - (Calvin Coolidge)
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; ... we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures for ever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Bless Yahweh, my soul, bless his holy name, all that is in me! Bless Yahweh, my soul, and remember all his kindnesses... Yahweh has fixed his throne in the heavens, his empire is over all. Bless Yahweh, all his angels, heroes mighty to enforce his word, attentive to his word of command. Bless Yahweh all his armies, servants to enforce his will. Bless Yahweh, all his creatures in every part of his empire! Bless Yahweh, my soul.
And what is faith? Faith gives substance to our hopes, and makes us certain of realities we do not see. It is for their faith that the men of old stand on record. By faith we perceive that the universe was fashioned by the word of God, so that the visible came forth from the invisible. By faith Abel offered a sacrifice greater than Cain's, and through faith his goodness was attested, for his offerings had God's approval; and through faith he continued to speak after his death. By faith Enoch was carried away to another life without passing through death; he was not to be found, because God had taken him. For it is the testimony of Scripture that before he was taken he had pleased God, and without faith it is impossible to please him; for anyone who comes to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who search for him.
(Psalm 100, NIV; Psalm 103, 1-2, 21-22, JB, Hebrews 11:1-6, NEB)
From ancient times people have sought another being before whom to bow in honour. There has been a constant searching for an object to worship. The Bible records many ways in which people have sought their gods. People have made gods of almost anything.
For Christians, basic ideas of worship come from the Jews' traditions of worship. They believed in one supreme being they called Yahweh. So awed were they by this supreme being they would never utter his name.
The Jews knew they were before the Almighty when they worshipped. They knew he was aware of exactly what was happening at such times. God was the witness of their worship and upon this historical foundation our present-day worship is laid. If we wish to worship in sincerity and truth, we need to recognise exactly who God is. Once his role is clear, our role becomes clear. If we fail to understand these things, while we may appear to worship we will not be worshipping. For our public worship to be in order, our private worship must be meaningful.
Alas, in regard to things spiritual, the foolishness of many is this, that they in the secular sense look upon the speaker as an actor, and the listeners as theatregoers who are to pass judgment upon the artist. But the speaker is not the actor -not in the remotest sense. No, the speaker is the prompter. There are no mere theatregoers present, for each listener will be looking into his own heart. The stage is eternity, and the listener, if he is the true listener (and if he is not he is at fault), stands before God during the talk.
Soren Kierkegaard, Purity of Heart
In worship we retell and act out a story. The story has to do with what God has done for us and what our response is to his work. It is an enactment of the event that gives meaning and purpose to life. It aligns the believer with the Christ-event and with the community of the faithful throughout history. Therefore when worship is acted out in faith, the believer experiences again the refreshment of his or her relationship to God and spontaneously experiences the joy of salvation.
Robert E. Webber, Worship Old and New
You tell me nothing new: you are not the only one that is troubled with wandering thoughts. Our mind is extremely roving; but as the will is mistress of all our faculties, she must recall them, and carry them to God, as their last end. When the mind, for want of being sufficiently reduced by recollection at our first engaging in devotion, has contracted certain bad habits of wandering and dissipation, they are difficult to overcome, and commonly draw us, even against our wills, to the things of the earth. I believe one remedy for this is to confess our faults, and to humble ourselves before God. I do not advise you to use multiplicity of words in prayer; many words and long discourses being often the occasions of wandering: hold yourself in prayer before God, like a dumb or paralytic beggar at a rich man's gate: let it be your business to keep your mind in the presence of the Lord. Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
Instead of complaining that God has hidden himself, you will give him thanks for having revealed himself so fully; and you will give him thanks also for not having revealed himself to proud scholars, who are not worthy to know so holy a God. Two sorts of person know him; those who have a humble heart and love lowliness, whatever their degree of intellect, high or low; and those who have enough understanding to see the truth, whatever objections they may have against it.
B. Pascal, The Pensees
The great fact of life is the human soul confronting the transcendent holiness of God. No person is ever left alone without God. An individual may try to ignore God but he cannot have peace without him; he may deny or reject him but not without a consciousness of judgment. God claims every creature. Worship is the loving response of the creature to his Creator. There is no sovereign right but God's... Christian worship is God-centred. God took the initiative in worship by creating man for fellowship with himself. As the ground of being, he is the source and sustainer of life. As sovereign ruler, God confronts us. He comes to us as the one worthy of worship, and because he is worthy he stands in judgment over us and makes demands upon us. As we respond in worship God allows us to experience new manifestations of his goodness and his love.
Franklin M. Segler, Christian Worship
First, let us fling wide the doors and windows of our minds and make some attempt to appreciate the 'size' of God. He must not be limited to 'religious' matters or even to the 'religious' interpretation of life. He must not be confined to one particular section of time nor must we imagine him as the local God of this planet or even only of the universe that astronomers have so far 'discovered'. It is not, of course, physical size that we are trying to establish in our minds. (Physical size is not important. By any reasonable scheme of values a human being is of vastly greater worth than a mountain ten million times his physical size.) It is rather to see the immensely broad sweep of the Creator's activity, the astonishing complexity of his mental processes which science laboriously uncovers, the vast sea of what we can only call 'God' in a small corner of which man lives and moves and has his being.
J.B. Phillips, Your God is Too Small
Most holy God, Maker of heaven and earth, I acknowledge that you alone are worthy of worship. May your Holy Spirit make my worship more meaningful. Lift me out of my selfish ways, lift me up until like Isaiah I see the Lord 'seated on a throne, high and exalted'. Then may I exclaim like Isaiah, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.'
Heavenly Father, help me to keep the focus of my personal worship away from self and on Christ as the one who has revealed God to me and through whom I am able to celebrate your glory. Make me wise in my worship so that I may shun anything which will distract me and turn my thoughts away from you.
Gracious Father. help me to take with me a sense of your powerful presence, knowing that wherever I go you will be there ahead of me, that whenever I need your strength it will be available to me through the tremendous power of your mighty Spirit and that I can live boldly in your name every moment of the day ahead of me. Amen.
Still Waters, Deep Waters ed. By Rowland Croucher pp. 186-190