Yesterday, I had the chance to interact with my son about a wonderful text of Scripture from the book of Revelation. It is the scene portraying the throne room of heaven. The King is seated in the middle. He has the appearance of beautiful stones, an emerald rainbow encircles him. He is surrounded by four winged creatures, each unique, each covered with eyes. They are surrounded by twenty-four elders, dressed in white with gold crowns on their heads. Two phrases stuck out to us:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power…” (Revelation 4:11)
“Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.’” (Revelation 4:8)
Many things could be said about these verses, but we noted a few things:
1. God is worthy of our worship. God is worthy to receive the best of everything there is, the best of everything we are, everything we have to give: glory, honor and power.
2. Worship happens day and night—and never stops.
In light of God’s indescribable worth, it should humble us that God does not impose worship on us. He invites us to worship him, but never forces it on us. To worship God is to love God and love is not an obligation. It is an invitation.
As Nic and I discussed the text, it became apparent to us that worship is, indeed, a privilege. Though it is something God deserves, our worship of God is not a duty, it is an opportunity. Worship is delight. Though there are no explicit words in the text to this effect, it seemed clear to us that the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders enjoy worshipping God.
Yes, worship is an invitation and an opportunity. Though it happens day and night, we have a special opportunity one day a week to gather in worship each Sunday. Nic and I talked about that phrase “day and night”. As we talked about worship in terms of honoring God it became apparent to us that anything we do that honors God is worship.
So…if washing the dishes helps others, we honor God. If that is the case, washing dishes can be worship. Yes, anything can be worship, but still we continued to gravitate to talk about worship as something that happens on Sunday morning when we gather with our local church.
Why is that? I don’t think it’s bad to think of worship that way. But I wonder…what’s so special about Sunday morning?
Well...it is special. When else do we get to worship together like this? It’s a privilege. It’s an opportunity. It’s an invitation to a special celebration. Though washing dishes is no less worshipful, gathering together on Sunday is truly special and different.
That is why we try to give our best in putting thought into the elements that fill our time of gathered worship. At the church I attend here is what happens on any given Sunday:
The musicians come early to practice, the sound technician comes early to work out bugs, the visuals on-screen are prepared. A child comes early to receive instructions on lighting the Christ candle. If you are in the sanctuary two minutes before the service starts here is what you experience:
…there is a short amount of time to get yourself situated; phones are put on silent, bags or books are put in place, coats are taken off. There is time to just breathe.
…the bell chimes, calling us to worship. A few brief words are spoken to call our mind, body, and spirit to worship. There is more time to breathe.
..the bell chimes again and a child walks slowly down the center aisle to light the Christ candle. The child doing this is eager about it. It is special to them. There is time to breathe and smile. There is something joyful about a little one leading us in worship this way.
…you hear words that the candle reminds us Christ is with us. We sing together and later there is a time of simple silence. Again, more time to just breathe, to be loved, to love, to honor God by giving him undivided attention.
So, this is an invitation…if you are a church-goer, I invite you to try practicing this kind of privileged worship for the next three months. Aim to arrive two minutes before gathered worship begins. Get yourself situated.
These commitments may seem small (if hard, for some of us) but they have the effect of yielding a disproportionate amount of fruit for so few seeds. Sowing these small seeds is an opportunity to reinforce that gathered worship is special…a privilege.