Reclaiming Worship

18 11 2009

“For: The Institute of Contemporary And Emerging Worship StudiesSt. Stephen’s UniversityEssentials Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

 

“If all creation is voicing praise to the Creator, when was the last time we stopped to listen and maybe even dared to join in?”

 

In this excellent interview between Dan Wilt and contemporary theologian N.T. Wright we are provided a number of excellent insights into worship and the result of listening is a sense of grasping on to the title and “Reclaiming Worship”.

 

Often we don’t stop to consider our role as God’s Imagebearers in the midst of his creation. We are reminded that as stewards of God’s creation (roles outlined in the Bible’s first book – Genesis), we have important, if not vital roles to play when it comes to worship. If we are ‘the flower of creation’, as Wright so poetically describes us, then undoubtedly our role is huge. Have we been living up to this?? What can we do to recapture our rightful position as sons and daughters of the Saving King?

 

Perhaps the phrase that has thrust itself into my mind space has been the claim by Wright that our key role is as worship leaders of all creation!! He puts it in this way:

 

“the whole point then is to voice creation’s praise” 1

 

We are called as people to be the spokesperson if you like, when it comes to creation’s worship of its Creator. I can’t help but be reminded of Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees at his Triumphal Entry, as He says that if the people keep quiet and don’t worship Him, even the stones will cry out!! (Luke 19:40) We are called to lead. We are called to worship. We are called to voice creation’s praise. This is now possible through the saving grace of Jesus Christ who acts as our Mediator in worship. Wright goes on to expand on this with reflections based on Revelation 4 & 5. These two chapters contain excellent insight into the type of worship happening in God’s throne room and the responses of all involved.

 

“we have this layer upon layer of praise, all creation, human beings gathering that up, human beings recognising that something is wrong with the world and that in Christ God has dealt with it  – and so this crescendo of praise and it’s all about God and what God has done, is doing and will do.” 2

 

With this in mind, it has been interesting to travel through each day with a realisation that the surrounding creation is praising and worshipping God. More often we need to allow space to listen, look and join in with this cosmic worship that is happening daily. Cosmic worship by a creation that realises who its Master is and is surrendered completely to His will and Word.

 

As a worship leader this added dimension to the role is worthy of consideration. Wilt makes this comment in relation to worship leaders in the church and their role:

 

“we are in the role that we are in, as lead worshipers, to make a way for people to meet with God, and to create a space where simple songs can put wings to the prayers of those who have gathered to worship. We usher people gently to a place where they can respond to the love of God – it’s as simple as that.” 3

 

Not only do worship leaders have a responsibility to the gathered church but also to God’s creation. In listening and watching creation, our hearts will undoubtedly be stirred to write songs that reflect the praise of creation. This is evident in so many contemporary songs that reflect on God’s majesty as evidenced to us in the created order.

 

The grand narrative of God involves a process of restoration of so many things to their rightful state. Worship is an important part of this process and provides an experience or foretaste of what this restoration will be like. As we listen out to creation and respond to this through giving it a voice, we continue on this path to reclaiming worship and directing it to the One who deserves it!

 

 

 

(1)  N.T. Wright, Reclaiming Worship – A Training Interview With N.T. Wright (Vineyard Worship Resources, 2004), CD

(2)  Ibid

(3)  Dan Wilt, essentials*green: Online Studies in Worship Values & Spiritual Formation – Online Course Text (New Brunswick: The Institute Of Contemporary & Emerging Worship Studies), p.5





What Is Worship?

3 11 2009

“For: The Institute of Contemporary And Emerging Worship StudiesSt. Stephen’s UniversityEssentials Online Worship Theology Coursewith Dan Wilt

After watching the DVD “What Is Worship?” I am keen to reflect on the idea of the direction of our worship. Who or what do we as humans worship? In a society that increasingly claims to not believe in God, it is evident that other things are claiming people’s attention and in turn their worship, things other than the Triune God. Dan Wilt suggests that it is important to consider these big questions of worship as we “become like that which we worship.” 1 Louie Giglio makes a crucial statement about tracing our actions to the source, to discover some answers.

“So how do you know where and what you worship?  It’s easy: You simply follow the trail of your time, your affection, your energy, your money, and your allegiance.  At the end of that trail you’ll find a throne, and whatever, or whoever, is on that throne is what’s of highest value to you.  On that throne is what you worship.” 2

Often we do not stop to consider our priorities in life, even when we accept verbally and in our hearts that there is a saving God of grace who deserves our worship. We fail to actually consider what worship means in our life. In the Old Testament for the Israelites under God’s covenant, worship was a fundamental consideration to all aspects of their living. We need to revisit our understanding of worship regularly. Definitions of worship are numerous and often complex but Wilt gives this definition and in light of Giglio’s comment it is quite important.

“Worship is the ascription of ultimate value and worth to a person, place or thing by the focusing of all activities of the human spectrum on that object’s value and honour” 3

Now as a Christian it is easy to nod and agree but what would be the response of a person who is not a Christian to this definition? Often I think our society places worship only within the religious realm. It is an idea for the followers of a particular faith but not relevant to all other members of society. After all, some countries and societies adhere to the separation of church and state as an essential value. It is not difficult then to understand why so many would not equate how they live their life, with the term worship.

This is also a huge challenge for Christians. If we are considering that our lives reflect what we worship then how we live is a huge witness to society, but more importantly a huge statement to the God we worship. God is described as “enthroned as great sovereign King” 4 by Don Williams in the DVD. This God would obviously call us to evaluate our worship, calling us to direct more of our lives to Him through the Holy Spirit.

The idea of compartmentalizing our life of worship is also explored in this DVD. The Jewish culture saw worship as holistic. This nature was questioned through the idea of the sacred/secular dichotomy in philosophical thought. This has led to a huge divide between these two ideas, impacting not only our society’s view of worship but also the church’s view. Although a number of theologians and leaders (such as Dan Wilt and N.T Wright) are calling Christians to reconsider this view, the prevalence of this thought has influenced the global church dramatically.

“Acts of worship spring from the overflow of a life that is already given over to His worship” 5

A true worshipper should be on the trajectory of living life coram Deo – that is a life in the presence of God. This means that they are attempting to offer to God all their acts of life as an act of worship. There will be no consideration of certain acts being worship and other acts being non-worship. This dangerous mentality is what society’s view of worship is.

We also have to realise the draw of life’s things on the way we live. That is the things of this world that draw us away from worshipping God. Perhaps drawing us to worship created things and not the Creator, as Paul writes in Romans 1. If we are to really consider the influences of other ‘gods’ on our life, we need to consider seriously what our actions, time and thoughts reveal about who or what it is that receives our worship. If, as Dan Wilt reminds us at the conclusion of the DVD, worship is the all-of-life response suggested in Romans 12, we must consider how our life is played out. Dan Wilt concludes the DVD with this reflection:

“What then is worship? ‘Worship is a whole life response to the all surpassing love of God’” 6

 

 

(1) Dan Wilt, What Is Worship? (Vineyard Worship Resouces, 2006), DVD

(2) Louie Giglio, The Air I Breathe: Worship As A Way Of Life (Multnomah, 2003), p.11

(3) Dan Wilt, What Is Worship? (Vineyard Worship Resouces, 2006), DVD

(4) Don Williams, What Is Worship? (Vineyard Worship Resouces, 2006), DVD

(5) Dan Wilt, What Is Worship? (Vineyard Worship Resouces, 2006), DVD

(6) ibid