Worship: Our Reason and Rhythm
2 Corinthians 3:18, “We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory…”
Works in progress
Every disciple is a work in progress.
A single moment of worship–even an extraordinary moment– isn’t enough to make us completely like Christ. A moment of worship that grips you, moves you, imparts truth that weighs deeply in you is powerful and sure to come, but those moments on their own do not transform you and I completely into the reflection of Christ. They aren’t enough to empower us to love like Him, serve like Him, forgive like Him, be patient like Him, pure like Him, compassionate like Him, wise like Him, attentive like Him, or faithful like Him.
A single moment can’t do that.
What’s needed is many moments. What’s needed is a lifetime of worship–a lifetime filled with weeks filled with days filled with moments wherein we are slowly but surely transformed into the image of Christ. Isn’t that what we want? We want what God wants, the goal of our salvation, which is:
“for those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…” Romans 8:29
But how? How does God conform us into the image of His Son from one degree of glory to the next?
What does progress require?
Being a worshipful people requires discipline.
We may engage in worship one week together and you are deeply impacted. Other weeks, you may pass through a worship gathering and not be able to sense anything significant happened. You might even think it was a waste of time. Yet, is that true?
In physics, there is something called a neutrino. It’s a subatomic particle–smaller than a neutron and carries no electrical charge or measurable mass. Because it is electrically neutral, a neutrino can pass through solid matter without being affected.
Likewise, it’s possible for us to pass through times of worship together and not feel affected. But, let’s not reduce worship to a feel-good feeling. Let’s recognize the cumulative affect gathering has on our spiritual formation–gathering to serve one another, gathering to serve our neighbors, gathering to pray, gathering to hear the gospel spoken through the mouth of another, gathering to speak the gospel to another, gathering to break bread in remembrance of Jesus, gathering to allow the Holy Spirit in us to edify another. In other words, let us not underestimate the significance of gathering to worship together–particularly in becoming more and more like Christ.
We gather informally and formally, throughout the week and on Sundays as an act of faith. We trust that God will transform us more into His Son’s image when we gather to discover the difference Jesus makes in all of life together. We gather together to:
“consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Rhythm of Sunday Worship Gatherings
Every week our goal is to rehearse the story of redemption that centers on the person and work of Christ together. Each week, our goal is to recast the story of redemption that centers on the person and work of Jesus.
Did you know that our gatherings are designed to retell the story of Jesus every week? There is a rhythm to how we gather that moves along the story line of redemption that is made up of four components: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Recreation.
We start our gatherings with an invitation to worship, which is the call of creation. God created us to know him. He invites us to draw near to him. We then sing a song exalting and celebrating who God is.
Then we move into a time of prayer where we confess sins or lament sufferings in light of what needs are exposed from the reading of God’s Law. As fallen people inhabing a fallen world, we express the fact that we are sinners and sufferers in need of God’s grace. We’ll then sing a song or prayer more prayers further expressing our needs.
That moves us towards redemption. God’s Word is read and taught in such a way that draws our attention to what God has done for us in Christ. Followed by partaking in the Lord’s Supper. There the gospel is rehearsed time and time again.
Our gatherings then swing upward as we consider recreation–the fact that Jesus is making all things new, even now. We sing songs of praise and, at times, invite participants to share words of encouragement designed to build our faith as we prepare to part ways from this place. As we do so, we ask for God to “give us grace that we may go in peace and be a blessing to the city of Seattle and beyond.”
We end our gatherings this way because not only are we a worshipful people who rally around Jesus on Sundays but also throughout the week as we go into the our various realms of influence, daily work, and relationships. We want to go with purpose, compelled by Jesus to live as His ambassadors.
After all, Jesus tells us, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.”
So that’s it. That’s the reason and rhythm of why as a church we prioritize gathering together, particularly on Sundays and other times of the week, and why we do what we do together in our worship gatherings. May years from now we each look in a “mirror” and see not the same persons we are today but rather people who look more like God’s Son than our old selves. May we have collected thousands of moments wherein we, slowly but surely, were being transformed into the image of Christ as we recited, listened, and applied God’s Word together.
Co-authored by Kim and Andrew Arthur.