Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Basic Christian Stuff: Why We Worship the Way We Do

The Christian church is generally a positive, accepting, open, hopeful place for people of all sorts. Occasionally we come across a person or a situation that gives us pause. We hear isolated stories of conflict in churches. But for the most part, it seems that Christian people can get along with one another, and be a generally positive influence on the community at large. However, in every generation it seems that there are church divisions of the style of worship.

This conflict is usually confined to musical styles- hymns vs. modern praise and worship, southern gospel vs. classical, casual vs. formal- but there is a lot more to the controversy than that. Usually we are committed to one style of music or the other based solely on our personal preference. We need to get over this. God is bigger than our favorite style of music. In fact, I bet that God can even work through a rap song.

It is important, though, that we realize what really goes into worship.

· Prayers- We pray in worship because it is the most basic form of communication between God and humanity. There are invocations- prayers that invite God’s presence, benedictions- prayers of blessing for God’s people, pastoral prayers and unison prayers. All of these are historically significant and very current and beneficial for us today.

· Music- There is no end to the variety of music for worship. There are instrumental numbers that help us to meditate and focus on God. There are also performance numbers by soloists and choirs that are designed to inspire, inform and enlighten us. All of these assist us as come to God.

· Scripture- We read the Bible because it is the Word of God, and it is the basis for all that we believe and do. It serves as a reminder of who we are in Christ.

· Creeds- We share our beliefs with one another. There are a number of creeds that we might recite or sing.

· Sacraments- Although there are several activities that might qualify as sacraments, in most churches we recognize at least baptism and Holy Communion. These sacraments are important because they are ordained by God. Jesus instructed us to do these things. We experience them in worship because Jesus commanded us to do them and their power is increased when we do them together.

Of course, there is a lot more to worship than this. There are questions about who worship is directed to, or what our responsibility is in worship. But we should always know that at its most basic, worship is being with God. When we worship, let’s set aside our differences and our expectations and help one another experience the presence of the Almighty.

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