by Lori Elliott Elbert
October 30, 2006
All of us have asked "What's the point?" at some time during our lives. If we are honest, we have probably wondered what the point is of what happens in worship. So let me ask the question out loud for all of us: "What is the point of worship?"
Often we come to worship hoping to be uplifted and encouraged in our Christian walk. Sometimes we come to worship to see our friends and catch up with what has
happened to them during the week. Sometimes we come to worship because that is what we do - we come to church. As I look at these reasons, I see a lot of us seeking something for ourselves. Pardon my bluntness, but if we are coming to worship to see what we can get, we have missed the point entirely.
Worship is not about us. Worship is about God. In worship, we remember God's awesome acts of salvation on our behalf. In worship, we cast ourselves before the throne of God and proclaim that God is holy, just, righteous, loving, awesome, mysterious, and worthy of all the praise we can give. The focus is on God, not on us. Whether you attend a traditional, contemporay, blended, or liturgical service, the purpose of worship is the same: to praise the ever-living most high God, Creator of heaven and earth.
Alexander Schmemann says that the principle thing in worship "is to stand before God with the mind in the heart, and to go on standing before [God] unceasingly day and night, until the end of life." Let's take that statement apart. The first thing we are told is that worship is to stand before God. In worship we come both individually and as a body of believers into the presence of God and we stand in God's presence - what an incredible statement! Second, we are told that we come into the presence "with the mind in the heart." This rather difficult statement reminds us that we need both our intellect and our emotions to be engaged in worship. Cold reason is not enough; neither are flaming passions. When we commit both our intellect and our hearts to worship we have brought all of ourselves into the presence of the Most Holy God. Third, we are told to "go on standing before [God] unceasingly." This statement says to me that worship does not end with the postlude. Worship continues day and night, every moment of our lives.
As you prepare to come to worship this week, how will you come? Will you come looking for what you can get from worship? Or will you come and stand in God's presence with both your emotions and your thoughts completely engaged in praising your Creator?