Wait a second… Did I read that right?
The FiveTwo folks are asking on their website “What does worship mean?” But the definition given so succinctly reads: “Worship is everything we do in response to God.”
So, holy worship is about me, what I’m doing for God? This can’t be right. I’m Lutheran. I know the definition of worship. These guys are saying they are Lutheran, too, but they’re giving the same mixed-up definition given by the Reformed and the dorky megachurch wannabe rock star pastors.
Let me read back through this thing again. Maybe I missed something. Okay, let’s see…
“There is a lot of talk about worship. What kind of music should be played? What form and style of service is best suited for the church? What is best pleasing to God and what is best pleasing to us?”
What is best pleasing to us? Is this really where the Lutherans start their discussion on the theology of worship? Are they really talking this way? My confessional Lutheran congregation isn’t. I know a lot of Reformed churches are. I know the non-denominational churches are. I’d better keep reading because these FiveTwo guys are confusing me…
If we have been in the church for any length of time we have probably heard the word “worship” defined by its English roots, “to ascribe worth to.”
Within the confines of which churches are you spending lengthy periods of time? Like you say, I’ve been in the church for a long time, but I’ve never been taught that. The term “worship” comes from an Old English word that, according to its original meaning, doesn’t have anything to do with man ascribing to or doing anything for God. It describes the person and work of God and His saving action for man. I’ll agree that over time the word has been twisted in so many directions, even being claimed by the dictionary in the way presented here, but we Lutherans have a few really good lexicons that are distinct from the world and help to maintain the word’s integrity: The Word of God and the Lutheran Confessions. And we Lutherans sort of dealt with the definition issue when we rested ourselves upon the term Gottesdienst – Divine Service – God serving us. Even better, because it became abundantly clear in the preceding half century that clarity was needed here, the last two hymnals of the LCMS have iterated the Gottesdienst understanding with solemn precision. Lutheran Worship began its introduction with “Our Lord speaks and we listen. His Word bestows what it says… The rhythm of our worship is from Him to us.” Lutheran Service Book begins by saying “Our Lord is the Lord who serves. Jesus Christ came into the flesh not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” When you guys took the little trip back to the origin of the word, as Lutherans, did you consider this? While we’re on the topic, did you happen to take the Book of Concord along on the outing? Did you notice how over and over again the Lutheran Confessions expose by way of God’s Word that worship is God coming to man and serving him, forgiving him, caring for and restoring him?
Proper worship would include humbling ourselves and listening to God’s word, preferring His words to our own, or anyone else’s.
Now I’m really confused. Haven’t you been saying all along that worship is about me and what I need to be doing to show God what He means to me? You just told me that proper worship means to listen to Him and to prefer His words. Doesn’t that mean that He needs to be the active one, the principle mover in worship? So which is it?
We have to begin to see God as the supreme expert in all areas of our life. We have to worship God by bowing all areas of our life before Him. Here’s something to think about: Does the way that we bow to God in singing resemble the way we bow to God with our sex life, our money commitments, and the way we extend kindness and love to our family and neighbors? May we tune our hearts toward worshiping God in Spirit and in Truth. May we bow ourselves before Him in every way, and then may we come together and sing. Really sing.
Okay. I see what you mean. When you say “preferring His words” you mean preferring the Third Use of the Law. The preaching of Sanctification needs to be the dominant element in worship. The Gospel of forgiveness and all that schnozzle is nice, but really it shouldn’t shine more brightly than what makes worship worth our while as sanctified believers. Worship will finally mean something to us and be worth our while, that is, we’ll finally be able to “really sing,” not when Jesus baptizes us or absolves us or preaches the Gospel to us or administers His body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins or remains the active mover throughout, but rather when we have “bowed” everything in heartfelt ways to Him. When this happens, then we are experiencing worship. When this happens, we are worshipping in spirit and in truth. And so I guess this definition, although it slaps those chains of the Law on us again, in one sense, it sets us free from our confession to run freely with the world around us, incorporating just about anything that pleases us. I get it. The world loves this kind of stuff. Folks will eat this up. Do this and you will fill your entertainment complex… ehem, I mean, church.
Wait a second… You want the Law, as opposed to the Gospel, to predominate in worship? That’s funny. You almost had me. This isn’t Lutheran. It’s dorky, trendy, wannabe rock star jip, and it’s pretty much useless when it comes to actually sustaining souls.