My dear new friends in Pauls Valley,
I woke up this morning thinking about worship. I often hear that people go to worship to get something out of it: a break from the busy world, some form of renewal, spiritual nourishment. Reading the Directory for Worship, which is approximately the middle third of the PC(USA) Book of Order, it is surprising how long it goes without mentioning anything about the people doing the worship. Worship is not focused on us, it’s focused on Jesus Christ, the Triune God. “Christian worship gives all glory and honor, praise and thanksgiving to the holy, triune God” (W-1.0101). The actions of worshipers are all directed toward God: “. . . we respond with gratitude. . . . we proclaim God’s saving love. . . . we rejoice in the gift of new life” (W-1.0102). We worship Jesus Christ, God’s Word made flesh, and in worship, we focus on scriptures read and proclaimed (W-1.0104). The Holy Spirit does things for us, to be sure, but those things are all things that empower us to worship and serve God. The Holy Spirit: “Instills our faith and enables us to follow Jesus Crist . . . empowers our grateful response . . . nourishes us through sacraments . . . sends us out for service” (W-1.0105). In all this, the activity of God empowers our activity to respond to and to worship and serve God.
The most amazing part of worship, though, is that “In Christian worship, Jesus Christ is truly present and active among us” (W-1.0106). We receive from God what we need in order to worship God, and in worship we receive Christ’s presence. We don’t get rest from (or for) our work-a-day week so much as we get rest to enable and empower us to experience the presence of Christ in our worshiping community and in the world. We are called to service to be a witness to the rest of the world that we have experienced the living Word among us.
I value that experience of the presence of the living Christ. I am starting an early morning worship opportunity on Tuesday, September 7th. At 8:00 AM, I’ll open the church and we’ll read together the morning worship service from the Book of Common Woship’s Daily Prayer book. It is intended to be a daily worship opportunity before people go to work, but it is not just an opportunity to get spiritual nourishment for the day. It is another opportunity to experience and respond to God in and of itself. I hope that that, by itself, will be a blessing.