“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” Psalm 95:6
First in a series–
Over the years we have heard many comments about our worship services. Some have indicated that they prefer little or no variation from our conventional Sunday “Order of Morning Service” (page 5ff. from The Lutheran Hymnal). We hear from time to time that since we know that order so well, it is comfortable and thus most conducive to heartfelt worship. Others propose that change helps to keep one alert and contributes to more thoughtful worship.
We have sought to strike a happy medium. We do not wish to introduce something which may not help–but rather hinder–this special spiritual experience. Therefore any changes we make we do with much forethought and concern for the worshiper. Out of 168 hours in a week we have approximately one hour to serve God’s people with the best spiritual meal possible. Therefore the service needs to be spiritually edifying, comforting, enjoyable, strengthening, and uplifting. And by all means, it should be simple to follow. But even though it may be simple, there may be questions as to why things are done in a certain way or why certain parts of our conventional Sunday service are as they are.
In order to gain a deeper understanding and greater appreciation for our worship service, we are offering a series of articles on this subject. We hope and pray that it will be edifying and help us grow in appreciation of our worship service.
The word “worship” is derived from the Old English “weorthscipe.” The value or “worth” of someone or something is emphasized. Our church services are worship services. This is true whether it is a Sunday morning, midweek, funeral, or wedding service. Above all, our attention needs to be centered upon the Lord our God who is our highest and dearest treasure. “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power. . . . Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” (Rev. 4:11, 5:12)
Worship In Our Lives
The psalmist invites: “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker” (Ps. 95:6). He invites all people of God to join in worshipping the Lord God of heaven and earth. This is something which God’s people do in an informal way every day. They wish to praise and glorify the name of God each day by their thoughts, words, and deeds.
But God’s people also have chosen to worship in a more formal way. For example, Cain and Abel brought offerings to the Lord of “the fruit of the ground” and “of the firstlings of his flock” (Gen. 4:3-4). Following the world-wide flood, “Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar” (Gen. 8:20). Down through the ages worship services have been carried on by God’s people in various ways and forms.
A Human Need
Such worship services flow out of a need for God’s people to stay close to the one true God of heaven and earth. A good relationship of the people with God is essential for life. When this relationship is severed, spiritual life is lost. As a result such people sense that something is wrong in their lives and wander about aimlessly, trying to find reason and purpose for living–but they will not find life in the true sense of the word until their relationship with the one true God has been restored.
Down through the ages God’s people have realized the need to stay close to their Lord and receive His gifts of love in Word and Sacrament for their spiritual strength and life. As our Savior points out: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life” (Jn. 6:63).
(To be continued)
–Pastor em. L. Dale Redlin