Journey: Worship Alive!

Read: “The Uprising of Worship”

The incarnation transformed humankind’s understanding of God.  As E. Stanley Jones put it, “Jesus put a face on God.”  The face was attractive, so it is not surprising that the early Christians gathered to receive instruction, to partake of holy communion, to enjoy fellowship, and to pray.

We have cone to call this worship, and it is clear–both from Judaism and Christianity–that worship is the central act of the people of God.  What we learn from early-Christian worship, however, is that this was almost certainly not confined or compressed into one hour.

In fact, worship was a whole-life experience spread over the course of a week.  It happened for a while at the Temple, but also in homes and other designated locations.  Worship was a thread winding its way through the totality of time so that every moment was a God-moment.

It is good for us to gather weekly as a community if faith to worship God, but there is a downside, and that is coming to define worship as an event that occurs one day a week for an hour or so.  Once that becomes our operative definition, worship ceases to be a manifestation of a resurrection uprising and becomes instead an expression of institutional religion.

McLaren rightly exhorts us to return to about a.d. 51, when to worship was to be alive to God 24/7.  It is a return to the original reason for gathering in the first place; namely, to come together to bear witness corporately one day a week to what had been occurring pervasively the other six days of the week.  That’s what makes worship an uprising.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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