For those of you who happen to read these blogs on a regular basis, I hope it’s becoming easier to ‘read the story’ or understand the flow of our worship. As always, this past Sunday we began with a Call to Worship, a passage of scripture which beckons us to come before our Holy God with a sacrifice of praise. Our response to this beckoning came in the form of us singing The Highest and the Greatest.
In all of our worship, notice the pattern of Revelation and Response.
In the call to worship the Scriptures reveal to us God’s desire for us and so we respond with a song of proclamation and praise in light of who he is.
However, as we sing praises to God for who he has revealed himself to be, we respond by acknowledging to him (and to each other) who we know ourselves to be. On Sunday this came in the form of the song All the Poor and Powerless. Do you see the ‘dialogue’ of revelation and response? We sing that he is the highest and the greatest and respond by acknowledging that, in relation to his greatness, we are poor and powerless.
I could go on to demonstrate how all of our worship is shaped around this pattern but, for today’s purposes, I’ll just leave it at this: worship is a dialogue with God. Worship is a conversation which we are drawn into. God reveals himself to us and this requires a response.
What this means for us as we come to worship is that we should come with a sense of expectancy. When we come to worship do we come expecting God to reveal himself? And do we come to worship expecting to have a response required of us? What might happen if you mentally and spiritually prepared yourself before coming to church to expect to enter into a conversation with God? Would this change how you engaged in worship?
While there are a lot of implications that come out of this approach to worship, one that really stands out to me is that worship becomes an act of spiritual formation; it is something that shapes and forms us to become more like Christ but requires structure and discipline for us to grow (just like prayer, meditation, Bible study, etc). In his book Water to Wine, pastor/author Brian Zahnd says it like this:
“Worship is not a kind of spiritual entertainment — worship is a work of spiritual formation. The objection I often hear to the use of liturgy – a formal track of worship – is that it’s dead. But this is a category mistake. Liturgy is neither alive nor dead. Liturgy is either true or false. What is alive or dead is the worshipper. So what we need is a true liturgy and a living worshipper.”
Did you catch that? We need true worship and living worshippers. If we are going to enter into the dialogue of worship, we need to be ‘alive’ enough to respond when God reveals himself to us. I think that can be a real challenge for all of us!
It’s also another opportunity for us to rely completely on Jesus. After all, it’s like we sang this past Sunday, “Amen! Amen! / I’m alive, I’m alive because He lives!”
Sunday, October 2, 2016:
Call to Worship: Psalm 111:1-4
“The Highest and the Greatest” (Tim Hughes)
Service of the Word:
“All the Poor and Powerless” (All Sons & Daughters [arr. The Digital Age])
Psalm 46 (sung as arranged by Charmaine Macooh)
“Because He Lives (Amen)” (Matt Maher)
Scripture Reading: Genesis 6-8
Sermon: The Flood & Covenant
Commissioning & Prayer for Dave & Tammy Wiens
“Ready for You” (Worship Central)