What is worship?

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Worship is the divinely created answer to the glory of God. It is motivated by divine love and springs from the divine self-revelation towards its creation. In worship, the believer enters into communication with God, the Father, through Jesus Christ, mediated by the Holy Spirit. Worship also means that we humbly and joyfully give priority to God in all things. It manifests itself in attitudes and actions such as: prayer, worship, celebration, generosity, active mercy, repentance (Joh 4,23, 1Joh 4,19, Phil 2,5-11, 1Pt 2,9-10, Eph 5,18-20, Kol 3,16-17, Rom 5,8 -11; 12,1; Heb 12,28; 13,15-16).

God is worthy of honor and praise

The English word "worship" refers to attributing value and respect to someone. There are many Hebrew and Greek words that are translated with worship, but the main ones involve the basic idea of ​​service and duty, such as that of a servant to his master. They express the idea that God alone is Lord over every area of ​​our lives, as illustrated in Christ's answer to Satan in Matthew 4,10: "Get away with you, Satan! For it is written, Thou shalt worship, the Lord thy God, and serve him alone "(Mt 4,10; Lk 4,8; 5Mo 10,20).

Other concepts include sacrifice, bow, confession, homage, devotion, etc. "The essence of divine worship is giving - by giving God what he deserves" (Barackman 1981: 417).
Christ said that "the hour has come for the true worshipers to worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the father also wants to have such worshipers. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth "(Jn 4,23-24).

The above passage suggests that worship is directed to the Father and that it is an integral part of the believer's life. Just as God is spirit, so our worship will not be merely physical, but encompass our whole being and ground on truth (note that Jesus, the Word, is the Truth - see John 1,1.14; 14,6; 17,17).

The whole life of faith is worship in response to God's action, "loving the Lord, our God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all our forces" (Mk 12,30). True worship reflects the depth of Mary's words: "My soul exalts the Lord" (Lk 1,46).

"Worship is the whole life of the Church, through which the communion of believers, through the power of the Holy Spirit, says to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Amen (so be it!)" (Jinkins 2001: 229).

Whatever a Christian does is an opportunity for thankful worship. "And all that you do in words or in works, all do in the name of the Lord Jesus and thank God the Father through him" (Col. 3,17, see also 1Kor 10,31).

Jesus Christ and worship

The above section mentions that we give thanks through Jesus Christ. Since Jesus, the Lord who is "the Spirit" (2Kor 3,17), is our mediator and advocate, our worship through him flows to the Father.
Worship requires no human mediators, such as priests, because humankind has been reconciled to God through the death of Christ and through Him "has access to the Father in one mind" (Eph 2,14-18). This doctrine is the original text of Martin Luther's conception of the "priesthood of all believers". "... the Church adores God in that she participates in the perfect worship (leiturgia) that Christ offers for us.

At important events of his life, Jesus Christ received adoration. One such event was the celebration of his birth (Mt 2,11), when the angels and shepherds rejoiced (Lk 2,13-14, 20), and at his resurrection (Mt 28,9, 17, Lk 24,52). Even during his earthly ministry, people worshiped him in response to his ministry (Mt 8,2, 9,18, 14,33, Mk 5,6, etc.). Revelation 5,20 proclaims, with reference to Christ, "Worthy is the Lamb that is slaughtered."

Collective worship in the Old Testament

"Children's children will praise your works and proclaim your mighty deeds. They shall speak of your high, glorious splendor and your wonders; let them speak of your mighty deeds and tell of your glory; they shall praise your great goodness and your righteousness "(Ps 145,4-7).

The practice of collective praise and worship is firmly rooted in biblical tradition.
Although there are examples of individual sacrifice and homage, as well as pagan cultic activity, there is no clear pattern of collective worship of the true God before Israel is established as a nation. Moses' call to the Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to celebrate the Lord is one of the first signs of a call for collective worship (2Mo 5,1).
On their way to the Promised Land, Moses prescribed certain holidays that the Israelites should celebrate physically. These are written in 2.Mose 23, 3. Moses 23 and elsewhere mentioned. They refer in meaning back to commemoration of the Exodus from Egypt and their experiences in the desert. For example, the Feast of Tabernacles was used for the descendants of the Israelites to know "how God let the children of Israel live in huts" when he led them out of the land of Egypt (3Mo 23,43).

The fact that observing these holy gatherings did not constitute a closed liturgical calendar for the Israelites is made clear by the facts of the scriptures that later in Israel's history two additional annual celebrations of national liberation were added. One was the Purim festival, a time of "joy and bliss, a feast and a feast day" (Est 8,17, also Joh 5,1 may refer to the Purim festival). The other was the feast of the dedication of the temple. It took eight days and started after the Hebrew calendar on 25. Kislew (December) celebrating the cleansing of the temple and the victory of Antiochus Epiphanes by Judas Maccabee in 164 BC by portraying light. Jesus himself, "the light of the world," was present in the temple that day (Joh 1,9, 9,5, 10,22-23).

Also, various fast days were called at fixed times (Sach 8,19), and new moons were observed (Esr 3,5, etc.). There were daily and weekly public orders, rites and sacrifices. The weekly Sabbath was a commanded "holy assembly" (3Mo 23,3) and the sign of the Old Covenant (2Mo 31,12-18) between God and the Israelites, and also a gift from God for their rest and good (2Mo 16,29-30). Along with the Levitic holy days, the Sabbath was considered part of the Old Covenant (2Mo 34,10-28).

The temple was another significant factor in the development of Old Testament worship patterns. With its temple, Jerusalem became the central place where believers traveled to celebrate the various festivals. "By this I will think and pour out my heart with myself: as I went about in great company, to waltz with them to the house of God with joy
and thanks in the company of those who are celebrating there "(Ps 42,4, see also 1Chr 23,27-32, 2Chr 8,12-13, Joh 12,12, Apg 2,5-11 etc.).

Full participation in public worship was restricted in the Old Covenant. Within the temple district, women and children were normally denied access to the main worship site. Unmarried and illegitimate, as well as various ethnic groups such as the Moabites are said to "never" get into the congregation (5Mo 23,1-8). It is interesting to analyze the Hebrew concept of "never". On his mother's side, Jesus came from a Moabite woman named Ruth (Lk 3,32, Mt 1,5).

Collective worship in the New Testament

There are significant differences between the Old and New Testaments regarding holiness in relation to worship. As mentioned earlier, in the Old Testament, certain places, times and people were considered more sacred and therefore more relevant to worship practices than others.

From the perspective of sanctity and worship, with the New Testament we move from an Old Testament exclusivity to a New Testament inclusiveness; from certain places and people to all places, times and people.

For example, the tabernacle and the temple in Jerusalem were holy places "where to worship" (John 4,20), whereas Paul decrees that men should "keep holy hands" not only on assigned Old Testament or Jewish sites of worship , a practice associated with the sanctuary in the temple (1T in 2,8; Ps 134,2).

In the New Testament, community gatherings take place in houses, in upper chambers, on river banks, on the edge of lakes, on mountain slopes, in schools, etc. (Mk 16,20). Believers become the temple where the Holy Spirit resides (1Kor 3,15-17), and they gather wherever the Holy Ghost directs them to gatherings.

As for Old Testament holy days such as a "special holiday, new moon, or sabbath," these represent "a shadow of the future," whose reality is Christ (Col. 2,16-17). Therefore, the concept of special worship is dispensed with by the fullness of Christ ,

There is freedom in the choice of worship times according to individual, community and cultural circumstances. "One considers one day higher than the other; the other one thinks the same every day. Everyone is certain in his opinion "(Rom 14,5). In the New Testament, meetings take place at different times. The unity of the church came to expression in the lives of the faithful in Jesus through the Holy Spirit, not through traditions and liturgical calendars.

In the Old Testament, only the people of Israel were God's holy people in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, all people in all places are invited to be part of God's spiritual, holy people (1Pt 2,9-10).

We learn from the New Testament that no place is more sacred than any other, no time is more sacred than any other, and no nation is more sacred than any other. We learn that God, "who does not look at the person" (Act 10,34-35) does not look at times and places.

In the New Testament, the practice of gathering is actively encouraged (Hebr 10,25).
In the letters of the apostles much is written about what happens in the assemblies. "Let it all happen for edification!" (1Kor 14,26) says Paul, and continues: "But let everything be respectable and orderly" (1Kor 14,40).

The main features of the collective worship included the sermon of the word (Act 20,7, 2T in 4,2), praise and thanksgiving (Kol 3,16, 1Th 5,18), intercession for and for the Gospel (Kol 4,2-4, Jak 5,16), exchange of news about the Gospel Work (Acts 14,27) and Gifts to the Most Needy in the Church (1Kor 16,1-2, Phil 4,15-17).

Special events of worship included the memory of the sacrifice of Christ. Just before his death, Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper by completely changing the Old Testament Passover ritual. Instead of using the obvious idea of ​​a lamb to point to his body that was smashed for us, he chose bread that was broken for us.

Moreover, he introduced the symbol of wine, symbolizing his blood shed for us, which was not part of the Passover ritual. He replaced the Old Testament Passover with a worship practice of the New Covenant. As often as we eat of this bread and drink this wine, we proclaim the death of the Lord until it returns (Mt 26,26-28; 1Kor 11,26).

Worship is not just about words and actions of praise and homage to God. It's also about our attitude towards others. Therefore, participation in worship without a sense of reconciliation is inappropriate (Mt 5,23-24).

Worship is physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. It involves our whole life. We give ourselves "as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God", which is our rational worship (Rom 12,1).


Worship is a declaration of the dignity and honor of God expressed through the believer's life and through his participation in the community of believers.

by James Henderson