When the focus of worship is on what God does for us, then our worship will be a blessing.
Worship is a special time. In God's house, God's people step away from the distractions and difficulties of daily life and gather as a spiritual family in the promised presence of God himself. Why do we come? What is the primary focus of our worship? On what we do? Or on what God does for us?
Certainly there are things that we do in our worship. We join with brothers and sisters in the faith and call upon God to be with us. We humbly and sincerely admit how far we have fallen and how miserably we have failed our God. There, in worship, we join our voices in hymns of prayer, praise, and proclamation. Every week we express what we believe in creeds that have been spoken by Christians for centuries. There, we pray.
But if we think of worship as primarily something we do, we are missing the most important part of our worship. Worship is about what God does for us.
Lutheran worship—biblical worship—is above all God speaking to us in his Word. It is God proclaiming through human messengers the crushing blows of his law. In worship, God lovingly speaks to sin-burdened sinners the sweet good news of sins forgiven and death defeated. In readings and sermons, God instructs, strengthens, equips, and motivates his people for lives of Christian service. Worship is where God comes to us in his sacraments, adopting sinners into his family through Holy Baptism and strengthening the faith of his people by giving them his true body and blood in the Lord's Supper. In worship, with every syllable of his Word that is proclaimed and spoken, God assures us of what he has done for us; in turn, he also reminds us of the mission that he has now entrusted to us.
When the focus of worship is on what God does for us, then our worship will be a blessing. It will help us to understand ourselves and all of our weaknesses. It will direct us to the grace and love of God. It will transport us to the foot of the cross, where Jesus demonstrated a love both undeserved and inconceivable. It will fill us with joy that continues long after the time for worship ends.
Sad to say, many lose sight of this primary focus and think of worship as primarily an activity that they do. When that happens, people tend to develop certain unhealthy expectations of worship. They begin to view worship as something that should be "fun" or entertaining. They adopt a consumer approach to worship, expecting that worship should be shaped by their own tastes and that it should cater to their own comfort level. They insist that worship should reflect what they want, what they like, and what they find pleasing. They run the risk of losing sight of what God wants to do for them in that precious time in his house. When the focus of worship is on what God does for us, then our worship will be a blessing.
King David said, "I rejoiced with those who said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord' " (Psalm 122:1). David could say that because he knew and remembered the true focus of God-pleasing worship. God-pleasing worship always focuses on the proclamation of Christ and on all that God has done for sinners like us. And if that is what characterizes our worship, if that is where our focus is, then our worship will never be dull, never boring, and certainly never irrelevant. When God's Word is proclaimed, worship becomes the blessing that God wants it to be.
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