Thursday, February 07, 2008

Worship Is Responding to God

We will do something a little different in worship the last Sunday in February. We’re calling it Response Sunday, not because that is the only Sunday we will respond to God, but because we want to get the message across that worship is always a response to God. We will offer multiple ways to for individuals to express that response following the shorter-than-usual sermon.

As I was thinking through some of the plans for that Sunday, a quote from Donald P. Hustad came to mind. I had the privilege of taking the last “Seminar in Historical Worship” class that Hustad taught at Southern Seminary in the late 1980s. In his book Jubilate: Church Music in the Evangelical Tradition, Hustad writes the following:

Christian worship is our affirmative response to the self-revelation of the Triune God. … In fact, worship is any and every worthy response to God.

As I was looking for that quote in my file, I found two others … both from Gary Furr, pastor of Birmingham’s Vestavia Hills Baptist Church.

The tapestry of worship is formed by the various threads of conversation that occur in interweaving fashion: God’s Word being communicated to the gathered community (both individually and corporately), worshipers responding to God under the prompting of God’s Spirit, and those same worshipers sharing with each other their understandings of their faith commitments and of the ways in which God is at work in their lives.

Christian worship is alive because, in its essence, it is a conversation between two living realities – the one true, eternal God and the body of Christ, the church. Because worship is a conversation and not a mere review of the past, it is dynamic, unpredictable, and open-ended. Who knows what might transpire on any given day when a group of believers hears and responds to the word of God!

We do not call what comes after the sermon “The Invitation” any more ... and haven't done so for years. We usually call it something along the lines of “Responding to God.” It is more than mere semantics. When God’s truth has been proclaimed, every believer within earshot should have some kind of response. Heaven forbid that we stop interacting with God’s truth and just bide our time through the end of the service.

That’s enough to think about for now.


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