What’s Worship?!

May 4, 2015 by  
Filed under Pulse

Worship 2Dear Convergence Family,

What exactly is worship? Is it the songs that we sing together at church on Sunday? Is it the music playing on Christian radio? Is it the sum total of a pious lifestyle offered in praise of God? Until very recently, I would have answered yes to each of these questions and not thought about the subject any further. Worship in my mind had something to do with music and something to do with righteous living, but it was not anything that I could easily define beyond those broad categories.

In one of my current classes, Worship on the Lord’s Day, I’ve come to learn that worship is so much more than I’d ever previously understood. First and foremost, worship is an experience initiated by God, into which He invites us to participate. By taking action to save us, both through Jesus’ death and resurrection, and through the Holy Spirit’s intervention in our daily lives, God makes the first move in reaching out to us. Pondering this, theologian Constance Cherry suggests, “Worship would greatly change if an entire congregation truly sensed they were coming to worship in answer to God’s personal invitation. The spirit of the service would change dramatically. Can you imagine the expectancy? The electricity? The reverence? The awesome joy that would quickly be manifest?”

Indeed, when we worship at church, we aren’t just meeting with one another; we are encountering the risen Lord Jesus. Furthermore, Jesus doesn’t just sit back and watch. As our high priest (Hebrews 4:14-16), He takes an active and leading role. When Scripture is read and the Word is preached, He speaks to us anew. These are moments of revelation, in which He shares or reveals Himself to us. This experience is far more significant than a typical conversation. The Word of God spoken to us is meant to nourish us, heal us, transform us and empower us as the collective Body of Christ.

What about communion? This mysterious sacrament is undoubtedly powerful, but can be extremely difficult to understand, articulate or explain. While no one can grasp all that God accomplishes in our worship at the table, traditionally Christians have experienced Christ in three major ways through the bread and wine. First, communion invites us to share in Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice at the crucifixion. Second, it encourages and empowers us as we celebrate His resurrection, His victory over Sin and our own acceptance into His family. Third, as we take the elements together, we are spiritually united together as Christ’s Body. When done in expectation of Christ’s presence and leadership, taking communion is far from a mere human ritual. It is another means by which Jesus acts in our lives and we submit to His loving Lordship.

When we come together on Sunday, let’s do so in eager expectation of meeting with the risen Lord. He has invited us together to hear from Him, experience Him and respond. Let’s see what He has in store for us next!

~Diana Wong

For further reading, see The Worship Architect by Constance M. Cherry.