Relationship With God And With Your Family Religion Essay
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
As we begin our worship pilgrimage together, perhaps it will be best to try to get at the core meaning of worship. The word worship itself is fascinating. It is a shortened English version of the old Anglo-Saxon word weorthscipe, which is transliterated Worth-ship. It simply means “worthiness”. Thus to worship someone means to recognize and to declare that person’s worth (Basen 1999:17).
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16:2193, LASB).
There have been a great many definitions of worship, some of quite recent origin, yet, it is my main purpose to analyse the different forms of worship. To worship, finally implies ‘to do’ or to work, so let us reflect on each worship experience and give ideas on how our churches should facilitate worship.
1. Experience of a liturgical worship service.
a. Briefly describe the service event by event. On Sunday 15 August 2010 I went to the Lutheran Church with one of my colleagues. He is the Reverend of that specific Lutheran Church. The service began with opening sentences from Psalm 124: “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, let Israel now say”. The Reverend then followed by saying “The Lord be with you”. This was followed by a prayer of confession and then by a biblical word of comfort and an absolution. The absolution is confession that you are a sinner, humbling yourself before God. Thereafter followed the singing of the Ten Commandments, sometimes done in two segments with a prayer in between. Up to this point, the service had been led from the Communion table. Now, either during the singing of the second hymn, the Reverend took his place in the pulpit. First he would offer a prayer for illumination, read the lesson for the day and preached the sermon. Then the collection of Alms takes place. Following the sermon, the Reverend offered a lengthy prayer of intercession, which concluded with the Lord’s Prayer. The Apostles’ Creed was said or sung at the conclusion of the prayer. Psalm 138 was sung and there followed a prayer of thanksgiving. The people were dismissed with the benediction.
b. Discuss how it facilitated worship as ‘revelation and response’. Revelation and response for the Lutheran Church entails the following: Although the liturgical worship is structured very formal, the people are called to worship with sentences taken from Scripture. They use the Scripture of Isaiah 6:1-9, where Isaiah sees a vision of the Holy God, and confesses his sin and finds forgiveness when an angel burns his lips with a burning coal from the altar. The aim for the Lutheran Church is that the people may bow before the transcendent glory of God, that is, to praise God’s greatness and power. When you have experienced Contemporary worship, by comparison, the closeness of God receives much less emphasis. In this worship, they see it appropriate to feel God’s greatness more than His nearness. They observe God from a distance, not up close. In Liturgical worship the service moves from adoration to confession to absolution to commission. They do everything in a fitting and orderly way. Hymns of praise and adoration are used to highlight the greatness and glory of God, not the worshiper’s thoughts or feelings about God. They do the corporate confession of sin by reading Scripture passages, the call to worship and the benediction also do the same. In the Lutheran Church, the congregation performs the Lord’s Prayer or repeats the Apostels’ Creed as a confession of faith.
2. Experience of a traditional worship service.
a. Briefly describe the service event by event.
On Sunday 22 August 2010 I went to the Reformed Church with my Mother in Mokopane (Potgietersrus). First it is interesting to note that in the Reformed Church the organ plays the most important part before the service commences. The organ is the only instrument used to create worship and praise. Also very interesting is the pulpit in the middle front of the church with the elderly and the deacons sitting on each side of the pulpit. The deacons come in first, then the elderly together with the Reverend. Before he gets onto the pulpit, he first prays at the foot of the pulpit. The service begins with one of the elderly blessing the Reverend. The Reverend then follows by giving the Opening Prayer. This was followed by a song from their hymn books, consisting of Psalms and Songs. Then everybody says out loud the Apostles’ Creed and the Ten Commandments. Then the collection of Alms takes place. Before the Reverend starts his sermon, he gives a lesson on the Scripture that he is going to use for the day. The Reformed Church uses the Old Testament more than the New Testament. Again he then prays before he commences with the sermon and then a prayer. After the sermon they sing a song again from the Psalms and Songs hymn book and then everybody stands to receive the blessing or grace from God.
b. Discuss how it facilitated worship as ‘revelation and response’. Although less formal than the Liturgical style, traditional worship still follows a planned and structured order. Gratitude and preaching dominate traditional worship. The overall purpose is to lead the congregation to thank God for His goodness and to hear God speak through His Word. The Reformed Church demands that Psalms, not hymns, were to be sung and the organ were to be played in the service. Their preaching includes exegetical preaching for the week to insure that every worshiper was confronted every week with the promises and demands of God. In this way heartfelt worship can occur.
3. Experience of a contemporary worship service.
a. Briefly describe the service event by event. On Sunday 29 August 2010 I attended my own Church (Living Word Church) in Brummeria. Our Church starts with the Pastor welcoming everybody in the building. Then the praise and worship starts with a band and a lead worshipper. Our music is gospel and contemporary Christian songs that stirs the emotions and prepares the heart for the sermon. We sing first the praise songs and then the worship songs. Usually the praise songs speaks about revival and renewal, stressing the need for God to visit His people in power, such as “Lord, Send a Revival” or “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus”. There is singing, clapping, and shouting praises to God. Then we go over to the worship songs that prepare us for a connection with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. During the worship people might lie on their faces or bow down seeking the face of God. Others will dance before God seeking to have a personal relationship with God, getting into the “Holy of Holiest”. We all know that praise and worship is very important, but the sermon is actually the main event for the day. The congregation then hears an evangelistic message calling everyone present to “get saved” or “sin and redemption”. After the sermon the Pastor will pray and then start with the call for unbelievers in the worship service to make a personal decision to follow Jesus Christ. The invitation is sometimes lengthy in order to allow unbelievers to recognize their need of Jesus Christ.
b. Discuss how it facilitated worship as ‘revelation and response’. Our Church uses informal methods that speak about exuberance, zeal and sometimes aggressive preaching, but it is still generally planned and structured. This style of worship seeks to turn lost sinners towards a merciful God. The informal mood of the service directly impacts the emotions, so that we will feel God’s presence during worship. Our worship also motivates us as believers to live godly lives in an ungodly world and to share our witness with unbelievers. Worship in our Church incorporates both revelation and response. As God reveals His power, we respond in wonder. As God reveals His grace, we respond in humility and prayer.
4. Personal reflection on the three experiences.
a. Discuss how Parrett’s teachings and the three experiences have impacted your own understanding of ‘worship’.
Let us first look at the style of worship: Parrett (Parrett 2008:22) says the following: “There is no such thing as ‘the correct style’, whether traditional, contemporary, mystical, or liturgical. All our styles of worship must be submitted to the test of substance – is God plainly revealed through the elements of worship, and are the worshippers assisted in response to Him”?
“Our worship must be God-focused and Christ-centred! It must include elements of revelation and response that are Biblically informed and Biblically faithful” (Parrett 2008:23).
The liturgical worship service for me has got many strong points. The formal structure takes the congregation to God because He is worthy to be praised in majesty and honour. Magnifying God’s transcendence brings to mind in the worshiper a sense of amazement. Their Scripture reading enfolds the liturgical service more than it does any other worship style. The only thing that bothers me is the fact that the God who is worshipped in the liturgical service seems unapproachable.
Although I grew up in The Reformed Church, the traditional worship service for me is somewhat predictable and boring, but it will always hold a special place in my heart. Why do I say that it is predictable and boring? The service is formal and for that reason you sometimes struggle to warm your heart for what’s to come. But yes, they worship God who is Great and Good, Holy and Helpful. The problem with traditional worship service is the fact that the young believers think this style is boring.
Contemporary worship service makes it almost impossible to sit still. The music excites you and you just want to worship God. Everything is excellent, the only problem that I experience is that Christians begin to think that the only way to please God is to be saved and baptized, even if they have already done so before. So often people also feel guilty of not serving God every minute of the day.
It impacted my understanding of ‘worship’ in the following way:
Diverse cultural backgrounds and personality types make it highly unlikely that one worship style will fit all people. What seems genuine and meaningful to some strikes others as false and blasphemous. Worship styles isn’t really the primary issue, it is absolute essential that the Church keep God as the subject of worship since to be Christian means to believe that God revealed in Jesus Christ is everything to us, Creator, Provider and Sustainer. We must always remember that God has called us to be His people and that our ability to respond to that call in worship is totally the gift of God’s grace. I think the only aim is to please God, whether by adoration and praise, prayer and proclamation, confessions and offerings, thanksgivings and commitment, or all these actions combined.
b. Indicate how you believe your church could broaden its understanding and practice of worship.
Dawn (1995:124) gives the following on what people want and need:
“My point is that people want worship to be more meaningful, but they often need careful instruction to make it so. Children, teenagers, young adults, senior citizens – all will gladly receive more depth, especially because so much is our world is superficial and trival or else deep in a way that is painful and tragic”.
Here are a few ideas on how the Church should broaden its understanding and practice of worship:
First of all, there can be no worship if we don’t deal with our inner self. All Christians are supposed to be faithful, however, some do have a continuous struggle with doubt. The Churches must remember, good worship heals a sinful, selfish congregation and enables it to assume the burden of discipleship. Worship fosters the attitudes and convictions that enable people to worship. The church’s calling is to bring people to an awareness of the true nature of the things that steals our spiritual energy and to provide them with appropriate nourishment (food for the soul). Worship leaders facilitate worship by guiding people in the use of their senses and thoughts, they must also clear away the obstacles and distractions that hinder focused prayer and meditation. We should remember that services of worship are constructed by human beings, and like all things, they deteriorate and need renewal from time to time. Before Christians set about renewing their Churches and reforming their worship, they need to over think the implications of the fact that they have no power to save themselves, only God has that power.
“A congregation that fails to insist on the very highest standards in its worship is demonstrating not charity, but blasphemy. No Christian community should ever even think of offering God anything but the best of which it is capable” (Frankforter 2001:146).
I have reflected on three worship services, discussed how it facilitated worship as ‘revelation and response’ and tried to broaden my understanding and practice of worship. We should always remember, the success of worship is not measured by its entertainment values, nor is its success the sole responsibility of the leaders. We the Church should never sit passively waiting for worship to happen, we must practice the discipline of prayer and meditation. There should always be the willingness to make personal sacrifices to serve God.
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