Continuing on from the quotations about worship, Sunday evening’s sermon was the final part in the series on a ‘Celebration of Discipline’ which has looked at inward, outward and corporate disciplines.

The word ‘worship’ has so many synonyms (nouns such as adoration, adulation, awe, blessing, devotion, exaltation, glory, honour, homage, laudation, love, praise, offering, supplication, reverence, veneration and service; verbs such as admire, adore, celebrate, esteem, exalt, extol, laud, revere, magnify, love, praise, respect, sanctify, sing and venerate.) We also looked at some of the Greek and Hebrew words for worship used in the Bible (conveying the idea of bowing down or kneeling, working or serving, being in fear of or having reverence towards, kissing or fawning, like a dog licking its master’s hand.) All these words convey the idea of relationship and remind us of the greatness of God and our humility before Him.

Worship is far more than just singing songs. It’s our response to the revelation of God and is what we were created to do. In the words of the Westminster Catechism, ‘the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’

Romans 12:1-2 gives us a clear picture of a life of worship:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)

I like the way the Message translation of these verses talks about “take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” Worship means there’s no separation of ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’; all we are, have, think, say and do should be given to God as an offering.

Can’t we just worship God on our own, though? How is this a ‘corporate’ discipline?

In a corporate setting, we remind each other of the truth of God’s Word, reminding ourselves of who God is and what He has done so that we have a revelation we can respond to. On our own, we very often fail to see the bigger picture, focussing in on the little details, easily swayed by our own favourite passages of Scripture, ignoring all the parts we don’t like or find difficult to understand. We are swayed by our emotions and our moods, able to praise God when the going’s good, but easily becoming sucked into depression and doubt when things become more difficult. The writer to the Hebrews encouraged people to keep meeting together so that they could be creative in finding ways to encourage each other and spurring each other on to love and good deeds. (Heb 10:19-25) This passage shows us the reasons we have to worship, the basis for our worship and reminds us of the responsibility we have to each other.

Whether we like it or not, we need each other. God has called us into His family, into His house, into His body and we all need each other. In corporate worship:
* we declare together the truths of God’s Word
* we stand on the revelation we have of God, whether we understand it or not
* we declare that He is good and His love endures forever
* we vow to serve Him to the best of our abilities, whatever those abilities are; in whatever fields He has called us to serve Him.
* We offer our prayers and support to each other in our vastly different circumstances
* we acknowledge that God is all to us.
* We understand, however dimly, that God has chosen to work through the church which He will build and all the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

We worship together; we pray together; we learn together; we serve together; we celebrate together. And we can say, on the authority of God’s Word:
“We will overcome
When You are with us, we are strong
And love will be our greatest song.
We’ll keep the faith and stand forever
We’ll live the faith and stand forever” (Tim Hughes, ‘Keep The Faith’)