Worship in Scripture (Part Five)

Central to the liturgical worship in heaven depicted in Revelation 4-5 is the presence of the Lord. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (St Matthew 18.20) This presence is most fully seen in the Eucharistic presence of Christ – “the Lamb who was slain.”

If you think about it, morning and evening prayer, the set times of prayer throughout the day, all came from the Jewish worship. The Eucharist (Holy Communion, whatever you prefer to call it) is the only distinctly Christian worship. At times it was the only Christian worship. The ancient liturgies address Christ as truly present. Christians came together to worship Christ, expecting Him to be present in their worship.

After Jacob’s dream at Bethel, he said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28.17) That should be our attitude toward our places of worship. It is God’s house and the gate of heaven. Jacob consecrated that place and so our houses of worship must be consecrated, set apart for the reverent worship of our Lord.

Consider the beauty of Solomon’s temple and the vestments of the priests. These did not offend God, these pleased God. These honored God. How do the decorations of our houses of worship and the vestments of our ministers honor God? If it is not for the honor of God, it doesn’t have a proper place in the church. If it is for the honor of God, then it should be the best that we can offer.

Singing and musical instruments are part of heaven’s worship. Even singing our corporate prayers is a reverent means of communing with God differently than we commune with each other.

We should not shy from gestures of worship. “Sit for instruction, kneel for prayer, and stand for praise.” The Puritans, who so opposed many ceremonies of the church, actually wanted a Canon passed to require everyone to kneel for prayer. They recognized that inward humility should be expressed by outward posture.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

From the earliest days of the church, the sign of the cross was made on the forehead with the right thumb or two fingers or the whole hand. Tertullian wrote, “We Christians wear out our foreheads with the sign of the cross” (c. 200) This is still how ashes are received on Ash Wednesday. By the 4th century, the gesture had extended beyond the forehead. These are all reverent gestures for honoring God in our worship.

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