Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ask the Pastor: What is worship? To Know and to Grow.

Ask the Pastor. I recently created a vision of what my pastoral role at Christ the King is. You can see this vision To Know and To Grow below, and that my primary role as pastor is to preside at worship. I was asked to clarify and expand on what I mean by worship, and worship life, and so I have done this, immediately below this vision statement. I look to expand on this more in the future. 

What is worship?
In short, worship is God's gift to our sinful world, so that we, as people in bondage to sin, can see, receive, and PARTICIPATE in the world as God intended it to be at creation. Our worship connects us to our, "Immortal, invisible, God only wise" and proclaims the truth of that eternal God to all people. This truth is perhaps most evident in the Hebrew slaves, who would show the ultimate sign of God's providence, through their worship on Mt. Sinai. Exodus 3:12, The Lord said, 'I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt you shall worship God on this mountain. 

The worship of this God, was a contrast to Pharaoh, who was the Egyptian God, and the term "The Lord" is in contrast again to Pharaoh who was ultimately the Lord of the Hebrews. Thus the worship of God, gave the Hebrews, who were in a brutal, hopeless, despairing situation, the hope that Pharaoh didn't have the last word. In more modern times, slaves in North America were often banned from worshiping (lest they here something about their worth) and held secret worship. Sometimes, this would include singing praises under water, so that they would not be heard and punished. For those in slavery, worship of a being greater than the slavemaster was a necessary source of hope and life as they were kept and brutalized from generation to generation. 

The truth though, is that it wasn't only the slaves who were in bondage, but all humans, by sin. The worship of a God more powerful than us, and who frees us from our sin, is indeed life-giving good news. Unfortunately, sin deceives and we humans don't desire or perceive that we need this life-giving hope, as by and large, our situation, at least for many of us in our country, is much better than that of the slaves. Regardless, the worship of God, gives us the hopeful vision of how God intended the world, and now, through Christ, is redeeming the world.

Worship Life
From my Letter of Call: 

We call you to exercise among us the ministry of Word and Sacrament which God has established and which the Holy Spirit empowers: 
- to preach and teach the Word of God in accordance with the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions; to administer Holy Baptism and Holy Communion; to lead us in worship; to proclaim the forgiveness of sins; to provide Pastoral Care

There are other duties as well, but I think these give the essence of what my role in the worship life of the congregation is in terms of actual services. But, going further, the "worship life" that I preside over isn't just these services, but lies in instilling a "worshipful life" throughout all the activities of the congregation. For example, how we use our money as a congregation is not influenced by getting the most bang for our buck, it's in using it in a manner that is faithful to the God that is revealed to us in worship. The ultimate goal of our "worship life" is that it will reflect our God, and our obedience, as God's people, to the will of God, and our continued dependence, as God's people, upon God's grace. 

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