Our quote this week reminds us that whenever we see something beautiful, we see God.
“Never lose an opportunity of seeing something beautiful,
for beauty is God’s handwriting.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
In part 5 of the Alternatives series, we’re going to take a look at Worship.
What does worship mean? Where and when do we worship? And, most importantly, why do we worship?
What does worship mean?
The dictionary defines worship as:
- reverent honor paid to God
- adoring reverence or regard
- to feel an adoring reverence or regard
The third is, to me, most important. Mr. Fischer says, “In the true worship experience, feeling is the essence. What you (we) feel becomes part of you (us); it builds into your (our) nature. It is reflected in your (our) life (lives). It becomes a quality of your (our) character. It is the light that shines through you (us).
Where, When and Why?
Typically, when we think of worship, we think of going to church. And, typically in our culture, we go on Sunday. But why? Why do we worship, and why do we equate worship with going to church?
Sometimes, we go to church because “we’re supposed to.” Even when we don’t feel like going, we go anyway. Some of you may have attended church in the past, not so much because you wanted to be there, but because you felt a sense of obligation. And, some have been taught that not to attend church every Sunday is a sin. Unfortunately, when we attend out of a sense of obligation, we rarely have a spiritual experience. In larger congregations or worship gatherings, it’s not uncommon to see people falling asleep.
Sometimes, we go to be an example to others. Parents will often go, not so much because they felt like attending, but because it sets a “good example” for the children. And, some people attend out of duress – their parents “make” them go. Some children attend because their parents insist that they attend, even when the parents themselves don’t. And, some attend due to the insistence of a loved one. However, like attending out of a sense of obligation, this type of attendance rarely leads to a positive spiritual experience either.
Still others attend just to be with other people. Many single folks, especially seniors, attend because it’s their only way to have social interactions with others. Attending church helps to lift them from their loneliness – which is obviously beneficial.
And, still others attend as a “means to an end.” Some business people attend as a way to make contacts, to enhance their image, and even to conduct business. When these are the benefits desired, rarely does a spiritual experience occur.
Some people go to church just to get out of the house. This is especially true when there is stress, unrest, and discord in the home. Going to church provides a respite from the “negativity” of the house. Going to a place of peace and harmony often lends itself to a positive spiritual experience. However, the benefits are not as great if one is simply escaping, rather than entering into the spiritual, the benefits are not as great.
Some people worship at private alters at home; some attend church via television or radio – and many find this to be a positive experience.
Finally, to quote Mr. Fischer, “…there are those who attend church and become mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically involved in the worship service. The sermon or lesson, the instructional part of the service, helps them to know how to live a more positive and productive life. The prayers or meditations, the experiential part of the service, enable them to feel the presence of God. This feeling can be carried over into everyday living and be of great value.”
So, we’ve looked at where we worship (in church, at home, etc.), when most of us worship (Sunday), and why we worship (obligation or duty, social interactions, business, escape, and to have a truly spiritual experience). What’s the alternative?
I’d like to share Mr. Fischer’s alternative – not as a substitute, but something we can do in addition to our regular worship – and that is, “to worship on a daily basis. This worship occurs at any time and in any place that you (we) feel adoration for and devotion to God.
This worship experience is not something that must be experienced in church. Worship on a daily basis can be done at any place, any time. You (we) may have a sacred and important place in your (our) home – a place where you can become quiet and feel the presence of God.” You might wish to stop by the Center and use the Prayer & Meditation Rooms.
Tying back to our quote and never missing an opportunity to see something beautiful, “The things of nature often remind us of the attributes of God. We can look at a soaring mountain peak and think of it as a majestic altar. The calm waters of a placid lake can put us in the mood for worship. A quiet glen provides a gentle setting for worship. The places and times of worship are endless.
The important thing to remember is the alternative – that is, worship does not have to be limited to attending church; and it should not be. Letting your spirit soar in a sense of adoration and devotion to God should not be just a weekly experience. It can occur almost constantly. It could be called “practicing the presence of God.” The quality of life derived from such experiences is indeed great beyond our wildest expectations.
The true worship experience will improve our lives, but it will not make of us ‘goody-goodies.’ Rather, it will cause us to be effervescent persons; persons with the magnetism to attract interesting friends into our lives; persons with a certain glow about us, which will make others want to be around us. Our minds will be energized with the realization of God’s life in them. Our hearts will brim with love, and we will live in a world of peace and harmony.”
Can we do more?
To me, worship is more than sitting in church, or even seeing the beauty around us. It’s similar to our discussion of prayer – we talked about living our lives in prayer without ceasing. Worship can be present in how we listen, how we speak, and how we act. When we’re listening, do we listen attentively? Or are we hearing, but inwardly focusing on what we’re going to say next, what errands we need to run, what we’re going to fix for dinner? When we truly listen, we may just hear God telling us things we need to hear through the mouths of others.
When we speak, do we speak with words of love? Are we gentle and kind? Or are we rude, foul-mouthed, nasty, and hateful? How about our actions? Do we make hurtful, nasty gestures? Do we treat others with kindness and respect, regardless of the situation? Do we assist others to the best of our ability?
Listening, speaking, and doing are important aspects in our worship experience. If how we live, how we treat others, how we listen, how we speak, and how we behave isn’t changed by our deepening relationship with God then we’re saying that God isn’t really all that important after all. How can we say we worship God when our words and our actions don’t reflect of our reverence of Him?
As we go about our daily living, we might do well to remember that if we wish to live in a state of constant worship, we should ask ourselves:
- Do my thoughts, words, and actions glorify God?
- Are my thoughts, words, and actions an example of God and Christ living in me?
Psalms 89:7 reminds us God is…”to be held in reverence by all those around Him.” Remember, worship is to feel an adoring reverence. So, it is right that we strive to live our lives in a state of constant worship. In John 4:24, Jesus says, “God is Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” When we worship in spirit, we worship from the heart. And our actions must live up to our words. In Mark 7:6 Jesus says, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are from me.”
Over time, we have attended, and will continue to attend, worship services for a variety of reasons. Why we choose to attend will have a direct impact into the type of experience we have. When we attend with the intent to have a truly God-filled experience, we gain to most spiritual benefit. And, when we have this sort of experience, it spills over into our daily living the rest of the week. In addition to our weekly gatherings, as the quote says, we should always be on the lookout for God’s handwriting – the beauty of God all around us.
This reminds me of a line in an old Carpenters song, “there is beauty in most everything I see.” When we take the time to see God’s beauty all around us, when we listen attentively, when we speak lovingly, and when we behave in a kind, loving manner, we live our lives in a state of constant worship. When we experience God in and around us at all times, when we worship in spirit and in truth, and when we honor God and Jesus with our hearts and minds, our lives become more energized and love-filled; and the quality of our lives, as well as those around us, is enhanced exponentially. If you haven’t already, I invite you to enter into a life of constant worship.
- Psalms 89:7
- John 4:24
- Mark 7:6
Join the Discussion
If you’d like to share your thoughts on God’s Handwriting and Worship, please post your comments. And, if this message resonates with you, free to share it.
Keep in mind this is a synopsis of Sunday’s message. The actual service, and subsequent discussion, added to the message and the experience for us all. If you’d like to worship with us, participate in fellowship, and be a part of the experience we share – join us each Sunday at 10:45.