Worship in the 21st Century

“. . . worship in the church becomes, as H. Berkhof has described it:

an antiphonal event in which, to the one side, God comes to us in such elements as proclamation of grace, command, Scripture reading, preaching, meal, and benediction; and in which to the other side we come before God with our confession of sin, litany of praise, profession of faith, prayers and intercessions, gifts for his work in the church and in the world, and hymns of humiliation and adoration, of praise and petition.

But such familiar exercises in worship are not worthy of him who lived his whole life for us unless the members voluntarily choose to respond attitudinally in a manner that moves them joyfully to offer all of their actions and service on the altar of sacrifice.  The average congregation, with its facile, traditional approach to worship, sees a duty to perform in the acting out of the liturgy as though that were the sum of the leitourgia (priestly service) the New Testament priesthood is invited to bring to God.  Once the hour of service has ended, the Christian feels free to sink back into the neutral (‘secular’) routine of daily living in the world.  I have no desire to denigrate the significance of repeated worship services, but the New Testament surely challenges us all to recapture the totality of its conception of worship.  All thoughts, words and deeds should be performed as worship because the Lamb is ‘worthy to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and blessing’ (Rev. 5:12).  The sevenfold offering, which the innumerable angelic hosts proclaim the slain Lamb is worthy to receive, can be given in reality only by the redeemed on earth.  For his honour, glory, and blessing, we speak, write, work, play, eat, and sleep, for he is worthy of all of the life power that pulsates within us” (Shedd, Russell P., “Worship in the New Testament Church,” in The Church in the Bible and the World, ed. D.A. Carson).

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