Sunday, May 02, 2010

Worship

Song Sparrow doing what he does best

Today I am 2,883 weeks old according to this age calculator. I was born on a Sunday, attended church the next Sunday and most Sundays thereafter. Today I am heading to church shortly and will be teaching another Sunday School class. I have seen a lot of changes in the Christian church in my thousands of weeks, but change is nothing new and will continue to occur.

There has been considerable debate about what constitutes worship. Changing music styles have polarized generations and some elders want nothing to do with new songs. Some churches have liturgical services and others say that liturgy is meaningless. Denominations and churches split over countless things and congregations can quickly become like social clubs where members have similar "worship" tastes, political views, social values and status. Outsiders are easily identified and may not feel welcome if they do not adhere to the group's norms. People like "the old days" and yearn for something in their memory, not for something new in their future.

I walked along the river yesterday and listened to all the different sounds coming from the birds and creatures who live there. Each sound was unique, from the enthusiastic Song Sparrow to the cheeping of the Tree Swallows as they hunted for insects in the air. No one demands that a Robin would sing the same song as a Cardinal nor that a frog would keep time with a Goldfinch.

Psalm 98:4 says, "Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music." And that is what I heard as I walked along outdoors.


I have been thinking much about what worship means to me. It is not the performance so many churches put on at the beginning of their services. In fact, I do not think our worship is confined to the walls of a building at all. I read the first chapter of Isaiah this week and while the prophet was speaking of Israel in the passage, the same principles are true today of the Christian church. I am not skilled in theology, but these words have given me much to think about in the way I worship God.

Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—I cannot bear your evil assemblies.
Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates.
They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you;
even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight!
Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!
Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.


Isaiah 1:13-18

9 comments:

  1. Wonderful post. I couldn't agree more.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with the concept of worship and appreciation of God everywhere. The clique side is what is not liked in any facet of life.
    Since I am a relative youngster at 2807 weeks, I respect your wisdom.
    However your chosen scripture is a little dark.
    I prefer "make a joyful noise ...."

    ReplyDelete
  3. It makes sense that a responsible and compassionate life would be pleasing to God and, therefore, an act of worship. Now, I'm off to check out that calendar.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hmmm, I'm 2933 weeks old and have been married for 296 of those weeks. A fun calculator.

    Ah, worship. I hear you! For the sake of our ear drums we rarely attend our own local little church. We are convinced that everyone is deaf for they keep cranking the volume higher. I already have ringing in the ear in my left ear and am not prepared to have the right one go the same way. We can watch the service on line and can tone the volume down. I know, we need to gather ourselves together and support one another etc. We also find the new songs really hard to sing, not really melodic, one never knows where they are going. Most of the congregation doesn't sing in fact, unless an oldy gets played.

    I've often been convicted by the ... you think you'll be heard for much speaking ... for me it has been the quick, sincere, prayers, voiced in my head, that seem to get answered the quickest! About a year ago we heard a speaker talk challenge the congregation about empty talk, asking the Lord for things that are a given, challenging us to really get into the mind of God, not just parrot things off. Some of the congregation were offended and the pastor had to back-peddle the next week!!!

    Yes, every moment of every day our lives should be a worship unto him by our thoughts, attitudes and actions.

    Good Post!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I hope this day will be special for you in every way.Worahip is so vital to the Christian,yet seems to be the dividing force in too many congregations.I like the thought that not all birds are expected to sing the same song.I want to remember that.
    Blessings,Ruth

    ReplyDelete
  6. NCMW- Thanks. I am working on learning to embrace those different than myself.

    SLD- I posted this on the run, and the joyful scripture did not format properly. I have corrected the post and added the verse that was absent. the first two digits of your number of weeks is the same as mine. You are catching up on me.

    AC- I agree with your comment entirely.

    CS- I hear you! And that is why I have been thinking about this topic so much recently. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Ruth- I meditate best when I am walking outdoors. It is the best school room ever. The bird songs really made an impression on me yesterday.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Er, I'm clocking in at - 1,066 weeks.

    :P

    Thank you for posting about this matter of worship. Even though I'm a young person, and as such probably have greater reason to love certain types of non-traditional worship, I don't. I value worship in its purest form. I was fortunate enough to grow up with members of the church who had the life-sense within them not to bring in the elements of the "world" into our meetings, no matter how tempting it might have been just to use "gimmicks" to get people. It's a controversial topic for sure, but in the end I appreciate this verse:

    John 4:23 But an hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truthfulness, for the Father also seeks such to worship Him.

    I was touched by this passage from John 4:19-24, when the Lord shows the Samaritan woman that the real way to worship God is not in a specific location but to contact God the Spirit in her spirit. The footnote in my Bible says that to do this is to drink of the living water, and to drink of the living water is to render real worship to God. Amen to that!

    Take care Ruth,
    :) aletheia

    ReplyDelete
  8. I so agree with you Ruth. It should not at all be about how we "do" worship, but rather that we come together in worship and in turn, shine that light back into the world.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous8:05 pm GMT-4

    Words from the heart....very nice...

    ReplyDelete