Worship … Recalled!

LATELY, I’ve been thinking and meditating on the idea of worship.We call our Sunday services, worship services: but where is the worship? Is it in the songs? Is it in the sermon? Or, is it in our attention to the sermon? Or, is it in something else? What about the work that goes on behind the scenes -- the people who get the church building and sanctuary ready; those who help with refreshments; and those who clean up? Are they not worshipping by the work they do? While I thought about these things, I was drawn back to the very genesis, the very first mention, if you like, of the idea of worship. In Genesis 2:3, after God’s creative work was done, the Bible tells us: He “blessed the seventh day and made it holy.” A couple of very interesting observations can be made from this. This is given before Moses (hence, it’s pre-Jewish), and it is also before man was placed in his “home” in the Garden, and definitely before any work assignments given to him to do. The “seventh” day was “blessed … and made holy.” And, importantly, later on in Exodus 20:8 we are commanded by the Fourth Commandment to "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Therefore, we can conclude that this day is special and is divinely consecrated for a special purpose. I submit to you that the purpose is worship. Today, our worship service is shaped largely by the legacy of the Reformation. The emphasis is on the Bible, the word of and from God. Therefore, the services focus on a sermon -- an exposition of part of the Bible or an exhortation on morality or faith. Worship in such a context also features prayers, Scripture readings, and congregational singing of hymns. Hence, the fundamental elements involved in our worship are: (a) worship that involves speaking; (b) worship that involves listening; and, (c) worship that involves doing. This worship form allows expressions from the heart, involves the mind and the body. There is upward praise, downward instructions (from above via the Word), and action that carries out instruction in the world around us. Do take note that we are to “Remember the Sabbath…” This is the response to God called for in this command. We cannot know God’s worth; much less proclaim it, unless God reveals Himself to us. So God initiates worship by revealing Himself to us. Then we respond, and the proper response is worship. The more we grasp His greatness, His power, His love, His character, the more we understand His worthiness, the better we can proclaim and show forth His worth – the better we can worship. In the old covenant, God required the Israelites to serve Him through a priesthood, a sacrificial system and a temple. In the new covenant, all believers are priests, all believers offer sacrifices all the time, and we as a body of people are the temple of God. The ministry of worship has been given to you -- so you can’t slack off!

Pastor Robert Chew