Three Functions of Worship (May 1, 2012)

…Opening To…

Worship is a way of seeing the world in the light of God. (Abraham Joshua Heschel)

…Listening In…

The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles. All the believers were united and shared everything. (Acts 2:42-44; context)

…Filling Up…

For the next two and a half weeks, we are going to look at what happens during a standard church service – well, at least a standard one in the Episcopal tradition, the one to which I belong. We are going to look at some of the whys behind our actions and our words. I think this is important because of the third function of our Sunday worship.

Wait. The “third” function, you say. Oh, right, now I have to tell you numbers One and Two. Well, the first function of our worship is to give glory to God. The actual act of worshiping our creator is central to our…well…worship. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but one of my favorite Greek words is the word for “worship.” It literally translates as “to bend toward.” When we worship God, we are like trees that bend toward the light in order more fully to drink in their nourishment. We praise God because God draws praise out of us, not because God needs the adoration. We praise because God’s very presence causes us to bend towards God.

The second function is the gathering of the community for support and building up of one another in the power of the Spirit. Again, I know you’ve heard this before, but it always bears repeating. “Church” is not a building. It’s a gathering of people who come together to worship God.

These first two functions of weekly worship are wonderful, but this third function of our liturgy is quite important, too. The third function is that the week in week out service gives us something around which to structure our lives. Each moment in the Eucharistic liturgy points to a way in which can live out each day. Over the next twelve days, we’ll look at these moments and see how they inform our daily walks with Christ.

…Praying For…

Dear God, we are unworthy to praise you, but, even as our praise falls short, you lift it up and sanctify by your grace. Help me to continue to worship you all the days of my life, in both my words and deeds. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, ready to order my life around your movement in it and hopeful that you will continue to show me the way.

 

*I have integrated into my ministry much of the content of the following three weeks from a wonderful little book by my seminary dean, the Rev. Ian S. Markham, called Liturgical Life Principles, which I recommend to you.

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