Gathering for Worship
GATHERING FOR WORSHIP
Worship stands at the heart of Christian community. This is doubly true because the word "worship" has a double meaning. First, the word refers to that attitude of heart and mind which is the only appropriate attitude of a creature toward its creator. In this sense "worship" implies wonder and humility, attention and obedience, confession and self-offering. Such worship is not contained within the walls of a church building and is not restricted to what happens within a worship "service." Indeed this root meaning of "worship" is an attitude of life and a way of being Christians:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God,
to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God,
which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)
This mixture of praise and submission will obviously undergird all that follows. To believe in God is to open ourselves to a relationship of dependence and awe, and if those sentiments are sincere and deep they will impinge on every part of living. However, that is how things OUGHT to be, when we are being logical or healthy. In reality, we get side-tracked, deflected and self-absorbed and need specific opportunities to focus on God in a worshipful and "awestruck" way. This is where worship as a particular event, at an agreed time and in an agreed place, becomes so important. This is the second, and most common, use of the word "worship"—an occasion when what should be true ALL the time becomes true for a short time. So in gathering for worship, we offer God praise and gratitude, we confess our sins and express our longings, we pray for the world and dedicate ourselves to God's service. These things are the very stuff of Christian living and need to be true all the time, but they are not. In gathering for worship we face up to who we really are and who God really is.
—Christopher J. Ellis. GATHERING: A THEOLOGY AND SPIRITUALITY OF WORSHIP IN FREE CHURCH TRADITION. London: SCM Press, 2004, pp. 3-4. ISBN: 0334029678
Have a great week!
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
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