Monday, April 1, 2013

What is Worship?

I came across this clarifying definition of worship in the book Grace for the Good Girl (which, yes, I still haven't finished 8 months later... and if I've learned anything from reading it, taking 8 months to read a book must be ok). I wanted to post it because I think it's so easy for us to forget this:
 ...Like the Virgin Mary, who chose to believe the angel and remain in that truth, worship flows naturally out.
Mary did not have to work hard to muster up an appropriate response to the gift she was given. She did not wring her hands with furrowed brow, wondering if she was doing enough to earn the right to be the mother of the Lord. She did not look over her shoulder to see what the neighbors would think of her. She did not fake happy and joy while trembling with fear on the inside.
Instead, Mary rose up and hurried to the hill country to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Action springs forth from the heart of a woman who has encountered God.
We toss the word worship around in our churched-people groups, in hand-folding fellowship, in reference to the building where church happens. We have worship teams, worship songs, worship bands, and even special worship services.
It's kind of weird when you think about it. Maybe you stand side-by-side with closed-eyed strangers in too-high heels with hymnals or screens or drums. Perhaps you sing with a guitar in a house, sitting small and comfy on the very couch where you watched Survivor last Thursday. Either way, singing songs about sin and blood and Jesus and the cross is strange. If I try to see it all from the perspective of someone who doesn't believe in God, it gets me all messed up. Because it's weird is what it is.
We refer to church as a building, and we use worship as a noun: "Did you go to worship this morning?" Or, if we use it as a verb, we refer to the kind of worship that comes in the form of melodies and rhythms, with voices and strumming and notes. God never intended us to refer to church as a building. And he never intended worship to be reduced to a church service. His church is his people, and worship is what they do.
 When you're used to wearing a mask, you are comfortable with compartmentalizing life. Mask-wearing good girls put worship in a slivered-up pie chart, dividing our lives into segments of importance. We assign percentages for work, service, prayer, school, exercise, PTA, meal planning, bill paying, dog walking, toilet cleaning, church, and rest (if we're lucky). But the woman who has freely received the abundance of truth from Jesus abides in that truth as her very life. In other words, the lines of the pie chart disappear, and worship covers the full circle. Free women respond with worship in everything. It is a natural outpouring of thankfulness and awareness of love and grace and truth. It isn't mustered up; it flows out.
We breathe in air and breathe out worship. We receive love and extend worship. We embrace children, offering worship. We comfort, we laugh, we mourn, we dance, we read, we dream, we exist—all worship. We pay the bills, we run on the treadmill, we enjoy a good movie, we make dinner, we welcome friends with open arms—worship, all worship. We send money and offer prayer and sit with a lonely neighbor, in Jesus' name. We wait for love, we long for home, we pour out our hopes and fears and longing; we create with words and photos and colors and food, all beautiful acts of worship. 
But we don't call it that.
We call those things living. But when the Spirit of the living God lives inside of you, then your living is also your worship. What else would it be? 

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