“But the time is coming - indeed it's here now - when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.” John 4:23
* What is true worship? It seems that not many Christians know exactly what it means. In the Lutheran Church we call the gathering of believers around Word and Sacrament “The Divine Worship.” We do so in order to let everyone know that Christ is the center of the worship and that He is the One that provides for all our needs – spiritual and otherwise.
* However, when we participate in worship, we are not only receiving from Christ, we also give of ourselves to God, because the Holy Spirit leads us to do so. That giving comes in the form of song, psalms, prayers… Our mind, our spirit and heart need to be involved, otherwise there is no true worship happening. We cannot mistake the elements of the worship for worship itself. Worship is not some magical event in which we can participate mindlessly (or heartlessly and still receive its benefits.)
* We also have to remember that worship is a relationship between the body of Christ and the Head, Christ Himself – therefore a corporate demonstration of our unity in Christ. For example, when we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we are affirming that we are one body.
* A man told a story about the time his son’s sixth birthday was approaching. He had mentioned he wouldn’t mind a party, and as his son usually was very specific about the kind of presents he liked so the dad asked him what he could get him. Bill expected a well planned reply, such as “I’d like a baseball glove; you can find it at Toys-R-Us, aisle 6, below the batting helmets, or a Parcheesi board; the games are in alphabetical order in aisle 1; its between the Pac Man and Pay Day.” But his son’s request was a bit different. He said, “Dad, I’d like a ball to play with for my birthday.” Bill said, “Great, what kind of ball?” “Oh, I don’t know, either a football or a soccer ball.” “Well, which would you want more?” He said, “Well, if you have some time to play ball with me this year, I’d really like a football so we could throw it back and forth in the back yard. But if you’re gonna be real busy this year, maybe you just better get me a soccer ball, because I can play soccer with the rest of the kids in the neighborhood.”
* The dad thought about this and said, “Let me surprise you. How does that sound?” And the little boy smiled and said, “Oh that would be great Dad. I really love you.” Then Bill went in and shared this little encounter with his wife and together they agreed, their son was not so much interested in the gift. He was interested in the giver. True worship is not interested in the created but the Creator. Question’s like, “Did I like the sermon/service/music?” are the wrong kind of questions. Other questions are much more relevant such as: “Was Jesus there in Word and Sacrament? Did God receive all honor and praise? Was I attentively present with my mind, soul, spirit?
* Was the divine service a culmination of my spiritual life or was it just an isolated event and then it was all over until the next Sunday, or whenever I will be in church again?
* My brothers and sisters, worship cannot be a one hour per week event. It needs to be a lifestyle. As I work, participate in some form of recreation, when I am with my family, reading the Bible, or on a commute… I am in the presence of God Almighty… and worship continues. By the way, we all know that in heaven we will be constantly in God’s presence… in constant worship.
* We are planning to start another Divine worship in January of 2017 in the Family Life Center. It will be simple in its format, but it will have the elements mentioned in Scripture that need to be in a public gathering of the flock: Invocation, The Word, Prayers, Songs… But since we are trying to reach the un-churched, de-churched and those who are not believers in Jesus yet, we will not be offering the Lord’s Supper (It will be offered in the Divine Worship in the Sanctuary.) This worship is not being designed to be entertainment, but to bring people to Christ. It will be focused on outreach, on evangelism – to bring people to the salvation that Jesus offers. When public worship happens, the Kingdom of Heaven is brought to the world. We… you and I are to carry Christ into this dark world.
* May God bless this new worship. We have a wonderful opportunity to share the love of Jesus as we invite others to come, to see and to worship God Almighty. That will bring purpose and meaning for their life. (More on this topic next week.)
* God bless you all! Rev. Don Sonntag