It was noon on a Sunday, and the trio was sitting at a high-top table in the sunny corner of a Runza restaurant.
“Well, what did you think of the service?” asked Matt.
The friends had just attended the worship service at the church where Matt and Angie attended, and he was just dying to hear what Hannah’s reaction would be.
Hannah popped a couple of fries in her mouth and started to talk before swallowing: “It was SO COOL! I didn’t know church could be like that! Lights! Smoke! I felt like I was at a concert! It’s nothing at all like the tired service at my church.”
Matt was smiling as he wiped up a little ketchup off the table: “Yeah, I thought you’d like it.”
It was Angie’s turn. She was smiling but seemed just a bit less triumphant. “I’m glad you like it too, but I think we should be careful about equating a great show with great worship—or concluding that something we don’t really connect with is bad worship. Worship has got to be more than a feel-good experience.”
“You’re right as always,” said Matt. “I love these fries, but if you’re a ring lover, more power to ya!”
“Such a jerk Matt,” said Angie rolling her eyes. “But something about that stupid analogy makes me think you get my point.”
“No, I get it too,” said Hannah, leaning in now to the conversation. “I can easily say I enjoyed the service more this morning—more than any I’ve attended before. But now you’ve got me thinking. What makes worship good? What makes worship . . . worship?”
“I remember it has something to do with spirit and truth,” offered Matt.
“And I’ve heard someone say it can be response to God in anything you do—even the mundane stuff.” Suddenly Angie remembered a note she had put into her phone. “Oo, oo—I wrote down a quote awhile back. Here it is—something that a guy named William Temple said. ‘To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.”
“So it has nothing to do with feeling?--nothing at all to do with my experience when I’m worshiping?” That was Hannah again, thinking along lines she had never considered before.
“Maybe if we eliminate feeling altogether, then we’ve gone too far.” Angie wadded up the wrapper of her Runza and continued. “I mean, if it involves thinking right about God, and choosing well in our relationship with him—then it seems like emotions are probably important too.”
“So if I like the music . . . if I can easily relate to it . . . then it might be easier for me to engage. The experience transports me. Did I just say ‘transports’?”
Angie jumped back in: “Yes you did and we won’t let you forget it! But I think you’re onto something. The experience of worship must be some sort of connection to what is transcendent. So I gotta think it would involve delight and wonder. In fact, I’d like to know if you can call it worship if there’s no sense of wonder!”
“Too deep for me!,” said Matt. “I’m going to get a refill and then let’s get out of here!”
“Yeah okay,” said Angie. “But next week let’s visit Hannah’s church and then talk about whether we know anything more about what makes worship good.”
The story of us all:
We worship God for who He is and praise Him for what He has done for us. Rightly sizing up God’s worth and works will always invoke a sense of wonder. Worship is our whole person response to God involving mind, will and emotion.
One important Scripture:
Psalm 95:1-7 – "Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care."
Now, what’s your story? You’ve heard Hannah’s story, you know the story of us all. Now, let’s talk!
Ask someone: Can you remember an especially significant experience in worship? What made it special?