not something you hear too much about. When people talk about the worship
service, it’s usually to complain that the music is too loud. So let me ask
you a question: how would you know if a worship service is a good one?
a good one, not one that pleases you. What’s the difference? Supposed the
preacher gives forth with a mighty sermon that causes you to repent of some sin
in your life. That’s a good worship service—but not one that pleased you.
understand why we worship the way we do, you need to learn two preliminary
Ritual is symbolic
communication. Think of it this
way. How many times have you seen a wedding where the bride and groom exchange
rings? It’s very common. But ask that bride if she’d care to part with that
wedding ring and you’ll find it’s not for sale. To her, that ring symbolizes
her wedding. We use symbols to convey the thing which are deep and profound in
life. Ritual is simply symbolic communication, acted out.
Worship and Service are the
same thing. If you look at the Greek
of the New Testament, you’ll find that the same word is translated “worship”
and “service.” This reflects a truth: what you symbolically do in worship,
you are to put in practice the rest of the week.
you can see why the worship is so important. It’s the church reminding
herself, week after week, of the essentials. We’re going to take some elements
of worship and examine their daily life impact.
spend a lot of time in praise, in song. Indeed, the Scripture frequently
commands us to “praise the Lord.” We do this in song, for it is in song that
we praise Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. So our praise to
God, in those few minutes, takes every bit of who and what we are.
is as it should be. We have a personal relationship with Jesus; any personal
relationship starts with knowing who the other person is. If you know him, you
know he is worthy of our praise. It’s a natural human reaction to give praise
where it is due (think about cheering at a ball game). We praise God for two
things: his character and his actions.
should carry this over into our daily lives. Those around you should hear from
you on this subject. There are things God has done for you; tell others about
it. You rely on his character; tell others why. Praise should not be limited
to Sunday morning.
older churches you may still see two pulpits. One was used for preaching; the
other for Scripture reading. This practice is very ancient; the Jews were
told read the Law aloud. They did so with great ceremony.
we read the Scripture in church, we are portraying the Bible reading we should
be doing during the week. As it is done every week, so you should read every
day. It is done with respect; you should read the Bible with respect.
Indeed, the ancients were commanded to post it on the walls!
you will do this, God promises great reward. First, you will be convicted of
your sins (which means you can then get rid of them). You will be equipped as
a Christian ought to be. But take warning: don’t be just a reader, but be a
giving of a tenth—is ancient; it goes back to the time of Abraham, at least.
The ancient Jew understood the principle quite well: the tithe belongs to God,
so you might just as well give it to him. Otherwise, he’ll come get it. You
wind up with no blessing and parting with the tenth anyway. Indeed, God warns
us that to fail to tithe is to rob God! Why does God want us to tithe?
enough: we tend to put our mouth where our money is. He wants your mouth
proclaiming him. Tithing involves three things:
It’s a recognition that God has
blessed you. You don’t tithe what you don’t have.
It also is a symbol of sound
stewardship—if you can’t part with the tenth, you aren’t managing your money
Tithing is a recognition of the
sacred. God commands it; you obey in a way which is most clear.
is a subject on which volumes have been written. But public prayer—prayer from
the pulpit—tells the world something about us.
Public prayer is a form of praise.
Public prayer tells the world that
we are depending not on our weakness but God’s strength.
Public prayer acknowledges our
sins, and asks forgiveness.
Public prayer commonly is used to
pray for others.
those four points home with you; you’ll need them.
all worship elements, this is the most sacred. It is in this ritual that we
proclaim the death of Christ as the atonement for our sins. The Scriptures
tell us of the exceeding importance of Communion. Communion is also the ritual
which gives us the most guidance during the week:
Self-examination. We are to examine ourselves before taking Communion.
We should do this during the week as well, recognizing that all of us are
sinners. We should then confess our sins and repent.
One body. Just as Christ had one body here on earth, the
church is one body. By eating Communion together, we proclaim our unity. We
also recall that Christ washed the feet of his disciples on the night of the
Last Supper; we should serve in like humility. Indeed, as we are one body on
Sunday, so we should be during the week. Therefore we proclaim our willingness
to help our brothers and sister in Christ.
Hope of the resurrection. The Bible tells us to do this “until He comes.” By
taking communion we proclaim not only the death, burial and resurrection but
also our hope of his return. This carries over during the week. Is your
attitude different towards death, knowing that our Lord’s return will bring
your resurrection from the grave? Is your sense of urgency that others need to
be saved sharpened by this?
Forgiveness. The reason for repentance is to receive forgiveness
based upon Christ’s atonement. Forgiveness is “one person’s willingness to
bear the consequences of another person’s sin.” As we ask for forgiveness
during Communion, we should forgive during the weak. Christ forgave us
unconditionally; we should do likewise. In this we bring about reconciliation
and the unity of the church.
Proclamation. Most profoundly, in Communion we proclaim the
central truth of the faith: that Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, died for
our sins on the Cross; was buried, raised by the power of God. He is
returning to judge the living and the dead. We need to live like it day by
Communion you eat a wafer of bread. It symbolizes Christ’s body. You take
some grape juice, which symbolizes His blood. Our Lord understood ritual and
symbolic communication; that’s why we have this ritual—to proclaim the most
important matter of the faith. Most of all, remember his death, burial and
resurrection. His death, because it paid the price for your sins. His burial,
so that you know it was a death like you and I will experience. His
resurrection, because it means that at His return, we shall rise from the
you proclaim in worship on Sunday morning should be what you do in service the
rest of the week. Worship and service mean the same thing.