Thoughts on Worship

Doug Floyd Worship is the consummate poem of adoration and glory woven into the fabric of all creation. Worship is creation’s continuous dance of delight to the glory of the Father, through the Son and by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Father, Son and Spirit will every possible existence. Thus all creation is rooted in the ultimate reality of the relational love that precedes all relation and all love. Into this cosmic web of relations, God wills man—a being made in His own image. Of all creation, man is distinct in his capacity for relational love. Man gives voice to the poem infusing all living things. While all humans ultimately glorify God, we as the children of God are chosen and have been created to voice this praise in a particular way. Having blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ, He has shaped us into worship. We do not simply proclaim His praise we become His praise. Our every action, whether we eat or drink, becomes an expression of praise to His goodness and glory. The worship that Father has placed into the heart of His children is shaping us through the Son and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our very character, our actions, our thoughts, our whole person is being conformed to the likeness of Christ, is being shaped into a continuous song of praise. So worship is state of being as well as an expression of being. Our particular being is redeemed and reborn in Jesus Christ by the will of the Father and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet, we also give expression to this state by and through His grace alone. In times past, man set apart specific places and specific times as sacred. In these places and times, man believed that in order to approach the throne of God, he must offer sacrifice. Through a system of rituals, he purified himself of anything that prevented him from approaching the Creator. Under this frame of reference, worship is one of several means by which a man may enter the Holy Presence. But the Father reveals through Jesus Christ and by the power of His Holy Spirit that man can do nothing to enter in His Presence. Man can only approach the throne of mercy and grace because the Holy Spirit draws him. In and through Jesus Christ, we realize that worship is not a ritual or a tool to achieve divine favor. Worship is the expression or response to God’s action. God touches man and fills him with a desire to return praise, yet even the act of response is impossible without the grace and mercy of God. But God in His manifold wisdom blesses man with the power to give creative expression to His glory. This expression is always relational, rooted in the relationship between man and God and proceeding out to the relationship between man and man. Time and space are the realms that God created this celebration of relational love is expressed. Time and space operate within God’s love, so the child of God is immersed in this love and moves through this love in every act. And yet, the children of God still gather in particular places for particular times of worship. Thus there is a distinction between the ancient notion of Sacred Time and Sacred Space and the grace filled notion of Particular Time and Particular Space.

Particularity and unity are held in perfect harmony in the relation of the Father, Son and Spirit. Worship proceeding from the love of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit also holds a perfect harmony of particularity and unity. Thus the saints of God can worship in particular places and at particular times while always realizing that worships infuses all of time and space. When we lift our voices together in a sacred place and at a sacred time, we join our voices to the endless chorus of saints beyond space and time. The sacred hour of worship reminds us that all hours are times of worship. The sacred place of worship reminds us that all places are an altar of thanksgiving unto our God. The triune harmony of particularity and unity also teaches us that while we all must worship in Spirit and Truth, our ecclesial acts of worship can have diverse expressions and still be submitted to the Word made Flesh. While some may search for specific forms in Scripture, they are in danger of violating the very reality of Spirit and Truth by their attempt to contain the uncontainable. Jesus reaches the ritual system of the Pharisees as insufficient substitutes to worship that is rooted in the revelation of the Father through the Son and by the power of the Spirit. Yet, we are in danger of replicating the Pharisees model by suggesting that a specific ritual system for entering into the Presence of God. The Scripture is filled with all variety of acts and expressions of worship. From dance to song to poetry to cries of despair, man looks to God as his sustainer, as his Savior, as his only hope. From songs written in the bowels of cold cave to prayers offered in the midst of unimaginable suffering, Scripture reveals man lifting his frail voice to God. This drive to lift a voice to God cannot be contained in a manual because it is the expression of the particularity of relationship. Each child of God has a particular relationship with the Father through the Son and by the power of the Holy Spirit. While John, Paul and Peter all give witness to the same resurrected Christ, their revealed expressions highlight varying aspects of the beauty and the glory of Christ. Together these images reveal a glorious harmony. Like the saints of old, God has called us in the loving community of the Trinity. Our expression of that relationship will be expressed in the particularity of our person. Thus Paul reinforces the image of the church as a single body made up of differing organs and parts. We can talk about worship, write about worship, and study worship. But worship is and always remains a mystery of love ever proceeding from the perfect love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to and through His beloved creation.