Worship is a corporate experience of God and following Jesus.
This week as we continue our Healthy Plate Discipleship series with “Worship,” we’ll explore together how and why worship is essential to our discipleship.
The scripture passage for this week — Isaiah 6:1-8 — is one of the classic texts for the flow of worship. It recounts a vision that the prophet Isaiah has. It is, admittedly, a bit bizarre. He sees winged creatures surrounding the throne of God and he records their words and actions. Yet, strange as this imagery is for us, you can recognize the movement of worship in it. It begins with a Call to Worship and a Hymn of Praise: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of heavenly forces! All the earth is filled with God’s glory!” This is followed by Confession: “Mourn for me; I’m ruined! I’m a man with unclean lips, and I live among a people with unclean lips. Yet I’ve seen the king, the Lord of heavenly forces!” Next comes Pardon: “Your guilt has departed, and your sin is removed,” followed by the Challenge and Call from God: “Whom should I send, and who will go for us?” Then, of course, is Isaiah’s iconic Response: “I’m here. Send me.”
You can recognize this classic worship text as the structure for the dramatic flow of the typical worship service. In worshipping together, we put our combined focus on God in a way that leads us through a version of this story — of Isaiah’s vision — each week. We move from the praise of God to experiencing God’s presence to experiencing who we are in relationship with God, and then on to what we will then do — going out, as we say, “to be God’s people in the world.”
The gospels don’t say much about Jesus’ actual worship practice. They do recount that he worshipped in the synagogues and went to the Temple. The second chapter of Acts describes some aspects of the life of the earliest believers, then known as “people belonging to the Way,” and worship was part of their lives: “Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone.” Those early followers of the Way of Jesus who lived in Jerusalem worshipped in the Temple, but they also met together in homes for worship. What stands out is that they got together and they worshipped God.
So, what are we doing when we worship? We’re joining together with other people — corporately — asa community of faith in recognizing God and God’s call in our lives. In worship, we are acknowledging that God is God (and we’re not); we’re learning, being challenged, and dealing with some really important questions in a corporate way: Who is God? Who are we? Who are we in relation to God? What is God calling us to do?
There’s one more thing about worship that I think makes it essential for disciples: At the same time that it keeps us grounded in God, the source of life, it keeps us lifted up by God’s grace; it keeps us focused on following Jesus and challenged to be who he calls his disciples to be.
I look forward to continuing our search for answers to these questions this Sunday as we join together in worship.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster
The Divine Throne Room
In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne, the edges of his robe filling the temple. Winged creatures were stationed around him. Each had six wings: with two they veiled their faces, with two their feet, and with two they flew about. They shouted to each other, saying:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of heavenly forces! All the earth is filled with God’s glory!”The doorframe shook at the sound of their shouting, and the house was filled with smoke.I said, “Mourn for me; I’m ruined! I’m a man with unclean lips, and I live among a people with unclean lips. Yet I’ve seen the king, the Lord of heavenly forces!”Then one of the winged creatures flew to me, holding a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips. Your guilt has departed, and your sin is removed.”Then I heard the Lord’s voice saying, “Whom should I send, and who will go for us?” I said, “I’m here; send me.”