Good morning Good Shepherd Jesus followers!
What does it mean to worship? And, who is involved in this activity (if you can even call it an activity)? This week I want us to consider the practice of WORSHIP which aids us as we walk the Way of Love – the way of Jesus.
Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary tells us: “The English word “worship” comes from the Old English word “worthship,” a word that denotes the worthiness of the one receiving the special honor or devotion.” Religions throughout recorded time have offered worship to a deity or deities. In some societies, kings were considered to have been descended from the gods and therefore were meant to be worshipped. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is said to have demanded the worship of a statue made in his image. And when he passed by, everyone was required to bow down on the ground.
Our Hebrew and Christian scriptures have a lot to say about worship. Isaiah the prophet saw a vision of God’s eternal realm, and the heavenly beings engaged in worship of God. In Isaiah chapter 6 we read: “And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke.” We are told in scriptures that the worship of God has been going on throughout all recorded time, and even into eternity before time. Worship will also continue after the concept of time ceases to be.
When Christians gather for a “Worship Service,” they enter worship that has already been going on in the heavenly realms. As we sing songs, offer prayers, engage the scriptures, we are joining our minds, hearts, and voices with the unending chorus that continues to proclaim the never-ending worship of God. Our worship of God continues beyond our services as we arrive at home. We settle into a chair, still our minds before God, and continue to worship. In those moments when we offer prayers and thanksgiving and read the scriptures – we join in the chorus of worship already going on. We join worship as we iron our clothes and wash our dishes and walk our dog.
As I have mentioned so far, worship is something that, for all eternity, carries on in that realm of God beyond our sight. It continues into time and within our faith communities as we gather, and into our personal quiet moments with God. But worship is also something experienced by every plant, rock, fish, Gazelle, star, galaxy, snowflake, molecule and atom throughout the universe. The Psalmist writes: “Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host! Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Praise the LORD from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and women alike, old and young together! Let them praise the name of the LORD.” Jesus made this point succinctly. After ascending to Jerusalem on a donkey to shouts of “Hosanna!” the religious leaders shouted to Jesus to tell the people to be quiet. In response Jesus said: “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
In other words, what the Psalmist proclaims, Jesus reaffirms – that since the beginning of time all of creation has been shouting out in worship of God, we just lack the ears to hear it! So, let me state this point in yet another way using imagery found in the book of Genesis. You could say that in the darkness before time, the Word of God shouted forth “Let there be light,” and all the universe came into existence. And that shout and proclamation from the very breathe of God has reverberated down through time and space and has echoed from creation back to God, with shouts of hosanna, and hallelujah!!!
May the Eternal One be praised!