Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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What is Worship?

Or:  Why is it important to worship with others regularly?

Psalm 95, known as the Venite (from the opening word in Latin: Venite, exultemos) gives us a familiar call to corporate worship in the first verse:

Come, let us sing to the Lord;
    let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.

Come. The Church is first and foremost a community of people called out by God.

The Church is God's people spread out during the week, each of us a little bit of yeast in God's world, so that it may rise as God's dough fit for the Feast.

We gather in the Lord's Day because we belong together in the presence of God. Unless we regularly get together to worship we will lose our "yeastiness," that God-given quality which makes us transformative and redemptive agents of God's love.  The world out there needs us to gather for worship--lest it really go to hell in a hand basket.  Contrary to all appearances, worship is not the peculiar and irrelevant whim of a few but the central fact of human existence.  We are made to worship God, and when we worship God we are helping God restore the true purpose of human life.

Come, let us...        Worship is first and foremost a corporate act, not an individual action. 

Yes, each of us can worship God alone in the woods, the trails, the river--and even in the golf course.  And I sure hope we each get to do that.  But it is no substitute for the Feast we have when we get together.  Just because I can receive nutrition from eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while working at my desk doesn't mean that I don't need a proper meal around the table with family and friends.  Worship is like that.  It's best done as a We rather than as an I.  This is why Deacon Ed goes out to our retirement communities, why we take the Holy Communion reserved from our corporate worship to those who cannot attend on Sundays.

Come, let us sing...         Worship is about opening our heart to God. 

Facundo Cabral, the great Argentinian composer and folk singer, says that one who sings has nothing to hide, for singing comes from the heart.  Whether we literally sing (as at the 10:30 a.m. Eucharist) or not (as in the 8:00 a.m. Mass), coming together for worship is about making our inmost self available to God for communion with our Maker, Redeemer and Sanctifier.  That's why we pray at the beginning "Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your/thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee/you..."

Come, let us sing to the ... God as God--not God as I would like God to be--and God alone is worthy of worship. 

In fact, the word "worship" is related to the word "worth."  Bending the knee of our heart to anything other than God cheapens and demeans us.  Paradoxically, it is in acknowledging that only God is worthy of our honor, glory, wonder, love and praise, that we retain and enhance our humanity, our dignity, our worth.

Let us shout for joy...  Worship bring us a deep joy that is not based on circumstance but on who God is. 

Worship re-creates in us that unshakable sense that God loves us unconditionally, without reservation, for ever and ever.  Recovering our identity as God's Beloved Children gives us a strength, joy and peace that far surpasses understanding. 

 Let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.  Worship is about rejoicing with God!!

Worship gives us that unassailable awe that comes from knowing that nothing, absolutely nothing in this life and not even death can separate us from the love of God.  God is that immovable Rock upon which we stand.  By the grace of God we live and shall live even though we are mortal.  By the Word of God we are promised that even though the heavens and the earth pass away, we shall stand before God, shouting for joy to the Rock of our salvation.  Worship is about the promise of resurrection--that in Christ we have new life even here, even now, and yes, in the world to come.

I can't wait for the next time we see each other at worship.

Blessings.

Father Daniel+