Thursday, December 13, 2007

Worship Come to Its Senses: Part Three

As was the last reflection on "awe" in worship this may be quite site (church) specific. Some worship services I have been a part of where filled with delight and joy, others seemed almost dead. However, most of the worship services I have been a part of had a kind of strange mix of emotions, varying from person to person. Of course my judgment on this is based on what I see and hear physically from people, which can only measure so much, but is typically a pretty good measuring tool.

Maybe all to often we feel an obligation to worship. We must "go to worship" because our friends or family will give us a hard time if we don't. Or we must go because "thats what the Bible says." Or I have even heard, we must go because "God needs our worship." (YA RIGHT! like the Creator of the Universe really needs our approval) When we start to ask these questions have we lost a sense of sheer delight in God?

The Israelites had a kind of marriage to God. I'll save you all the love-obligation metaphors, because I'm sure you've heard them all but this is at the heart of biblical worship. Saliers says, "We are to praise and bless God even when we don't feel like it, only to discover, in doing so, that God is our first love and the wellspring of all enjoyment... What we adore and revere we praise and delight in."

Saliers suggests that the chief end of man, or the purpose for which we were created is "to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever." If we don't have this in our worship services, where else will we find it? We must remember that our very existence is a gift freely given.

Don't get me wrong, you can't always be happy. Over half of the Psalms were written in lament. Saliers says, "no one can sustain delight-taking all the time, at lease in the sense of being on a natural high. To live attentively and intensely is also to suffer." I have had many seasons in my life where I was very much a "winter Christian" as Dr. Beck a Psychology professor at ACU says. These were seasons of darkness in not understanding God and why life and ministry can be so difficult, but it is in these times that I grew immensely. Saliers talks about short lived pleasures like a child winning a prize at a fair, and the brief "joy" that the child feels. "Part of growing up is learning to tell the difference between the childish delights of good luck and the deeper, longer lasting enjoyments of something well done or of a love cultivated over time." This is the kind of love we have for our Father, and should be the delight that we express in worship in both the seasons of "winter" and "summer." This is why the Apostle Paul writes, Rejoice always... give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) because he had "learned the secret to being content in all circumstances." God is not asking us to thank Him for pain, but asking us to give thanks for the Love of God in all circumstances.