|Published by Sheila Murray on Mon, 25 Feb 2019 10:32|
Our Reading this morning from Revelation 4 is about worshipping God in Heaven. And it includes the words which we know as the Sanctus – words we repeat in our communion services – Holy, holy holy is the Lord God Almighty – and in Revelation it continues who was and is and is to come. And then we have the wonderful words You are worthy our Lord and God to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things and by your will they were created and have their being. What’s this got to do with us, here today you may be thinking? Well first, let’s look at worship in the Old and New Testaments.
Worship in the Old Testament
A wide range of terms is used in the Old Testament for various aspects or expressions of worship. These involve homage, service and reverence demonstrated in the whole of the person’s life.”
In the early part of the OT worship was spontaneous and in response to a revelation from God, building up a relationship between God and the individuals concerned. It was informal, following no ritualistic pattern, was at no fixed location and had no established priesthood. And then during Moses’ time, worship became very detailed and fixed with set rules and regulations. Read Leviticus – 27 chapters of what to do and what not to do.
Worship in the New Testament
In the New Testament there are various words for worship which work very closely to those used in the OT and reinforce the concept that worship involves honouring, serving and respecting God.
For the early Christians what did their worship look like? Nowhere in the NT does it give us a “service outline” or a blueprint on what worship must be. There was diversity. Worship happened in synagogues, in the Temple and in people’s homes. There were formal celebrations and informal times of fellowship together.
Aspects of worship that are found in the NT include:
- Prayer 1 Timothy 2:1, Colossians 1:9-11
- Reading of Scripture/Preaching/Teaching 1 Timothy 4:13, Acts 5:42
- Hospitality Acts 2:42, Heb 13:2
- Encouraging, building each other up 1 Thes 5:11, Ephes 4:1-16
- Lord’s Supper 1 Corinth 11:17-26, Matt 26:26
- Giving to the Poor 2 Corinth 9:11-13, 1 Corinth 16:1-3
- Public confession 1 Timothy 6:12, 1 John 1:9
- Use of spiritual gifts 1 Corinthians 12 & 14
But nowhere does the Bible say you must have all these elements in a “worship service”.
Worship is not just something that we do for an hour on a Sunday morning. Biblically, it has various aspects to it, and in a nutshell it is about our attitude to God. David Watson says “As much as you worship God in your daily life is as much as you worship God”.
What is important is that our worship is Christ-centred. It is not entertainment It is all about our attitude to God, our relationship with God, and our need to allow God to speak to us. It is also about relating to each other, caring for each other, getting to know each other so we can pray when help is needed, give thanks when God has blessed someone etc. We are called to help “build up” or edify the body of Christ. To do this our worship needs to have different dimensions: Us to God and God to Us, as well as us relating to each other.
So how does this relate to our services of corporate worship?
Worship is FROM God It is at His initiative.
Worship is OF God It is our response.
Worship is FOR God Our priority is God.
Worship is WITH God Building a relationship.
Worship is CHRIST-CENTRED Our focus is Christ.
Worship is in SPIRIT Our spirituality.
Worship is in TRUTH Our integrity.
Worship is LIFESTYLE It is 24/7.
Frequently people go to church expecting to be “fed” in order to get through their weekly struggles, but it should be the other way round, us bringing our weekly lives to God.
“As much as you worship God in your daily life is as much as you worship God”.
Worship is not just being in church for 60-90 minutes on a Sunday morning, but it is about deepening our relationship with Him. Worship is our life obedience to God, not what we say in a Sunday service, but how we live our lives, what we do and what we say seven days a week.
In a corporate worship situation it is not “its all about me”, but the presence of God among us. So we need to sacrifice our likes and dislikes.
When you come to church on a Sunday what are you expecting? Perhaps you aren’t expecting anything, perhaps this is just a nice club where like-minded people are around us, while we sing some music which sometimes we like and at other times we don’t; we listen to a sermon, say a few prayers which we know off by heart and we come and receive the bread and wine, and then perhaps we have some other refreshments and chat afterwards. Or are we here to worship our amazing Creator God, one whom we revere, one for whom we bow down, one for whom we want to say thank you to – one who loves each one of us, just as we are, warts and all and who wants us to get to know him better. Are you prepared to come and engage with God?
David Peterson sums it up as “….worship is an engagement with God, through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit – a Christ-centred, gospel-serving, life-orientation.”
Holy holy holy is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come.