If someone asked you “what does the word worship mean?” how would you answer that? Would you have thoughts of church services? People bowing down to an object? People raising their hands while singing? This word can be so many things! When I was younger, worship was a list of things we did in church: sing, pray, commune, listen to a sermon. Simple, straight forward, and boring. There was no emotion outside of wishing I were somewhere - anywhere else. After being married for several years my husband, oldest daughter, and I found ourselves in a new town away from family and looking for a place we could call a church home. We visited several places close by and even took far-fetched suggestions from people who really loved their own congregation. None of these places was what we were looking for. It was a formula that we had somewhere in our minds. When we gathered to WORSHIP (there is that word again) we wanted it to be truth, love, community, youth, experience. It was hard to find for some reason! Then it happened - we walked into a service in a high school auditorium and the word WORSHIP was not only alive, but for me, redefined.
Worship should be alive. In Romans 12:1 we are told that we are to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice and that this is true and proper worship. In John 4:24 we are told that worship has to be in spirit and in truth. And in Matthew when we read the story of the birth of Christ we are told that wise men and shepherds traveled to worship. All of these verses are full of a sense of action.
When we walked into the auditorium at this new place, we were surprised at how many people kindly greeted us. We were surprised so many people were gathering in a make-shift church setting. It was totally foreign to us. Service began and it didn’t take long for me to realize that this group of people had what I wanted. They completely allowed themselves to be immersed in the moment and were truly worshiping God in spirit and in truth. Now, this is not to say that other people in other congregations were not. I could just feel it in a real sense in this situation. It was what my spirit needed - had been craving. Eyes were closed, hands were raised, people were singing at the top of their voices songs of love and praise to God. People were really coming to the presence of God’s throne to worship. There was a sermon and it was so applicable and so rooted in the truth of the Bible. As the sermon ended people went forward and prayed with one another and tears fell from my eyes. This was such an experience. I wondered if it was like this every week, or was I just hungry for a church home? As positive as the experience was, it caused me to really question. Were these people for real? How can you maintain this? Was this something I could be a part of?
We continued going to this congregation. The feelings of true worship in the presence of God continued each week. I was home.
Now, circle back to my original question: What does the word worship mean? To me, it was coming into the presence of God during a time each week with fellow Christians. It can also mean coming into God’s presence on your own. It can involve singing, praying, sermons, meditation, and other things as well. I think the common threads we need to recognize are that it is coming into God’s presence, a spirit-lead experience, and rooted in truth. Why these three things? We have to remember who we are worshiping! The one true living God. The author of life. He deserves our attention and in order to worship him we have to enter into his presence. The spirit was given to us to help us on a daily basis, but also to guide us in ways of prayer and worship. And finally, we are told of the many aspects of worship in the Bible - which is full of truth. As we explore worship this month I hope you will continue to think about what it looks like, sounds like, feels like, and means to you. I feel like my definition of worship has changed even since this experience of redefinition. It will probably continue to grow as I grow in my knowledge and understanding of God and what he wants for us and from us.
written by: angie reese
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