Saturday, October 10, 2009

Some thoughts on Worship (vi): Postscript - the fruits of right worship

Some friends are kindly discussing this series, see here, here and here. I'm prompted to write this postscript to head off a potential misunderstanding.

Worship has fruits. These are not the uses of worship - if we aim for the fruits then we are no longer worshipping rightly - but if we get the worship right then we can reasonably expect the God of all grace to equip us for ministry.

In heaven - or after the resurrection - then all that we do will be worship, for God will be with us eternally. In the meantime, worship allows us to touch heaven and enables us to carry out the work of the kingdom.

It is a little bit like a musician taking time to tune their instrument in order to then play sweet music; worship tunes us in to the correct pitch. Of course, that analogy breaks down a little - pursuing it would mean that all that happens in heaven is the tuning of instruments, a little like the cacophony that precedes the symphony.

Yet whilst we are here in this sinful world, right worship, which relates us to God and sets us right with God, is the spiritual medicine which heals us and enables us to share that healing with the wider world.

So right worship is the prerequisite for right mission, for right proclamation, for right witness. Where the worship is confused and confusing all these other elements of Christian life are diminished and inhibited.

This is why the stewardship of worship is an essentially pastoral task - it undergirds all other pastoral work - and why it is properly the prime concern of the priest. If we get the worship wrong then everything else we do is diminished; if we get the worship right then everything else we do is enhanced.

So yes: let us be concerned with all the other things that Christians are called to do - with mission, with evangelism, with political engagement and care for the poor, with provocative lives that challenge the powers and call people to repentance. But if we are going to do that in accordance with God's will and not with our own... let us take our worship with ultimate seriousness, and love God with ALL our hearts, minds, souls and strength. God must come first, and if we seek His kingdom then all these other things will be given us as well.

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