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This week we turn to the third of what we as Presbyterians we call the Six Great Ends of the Church. The maintenance of divine worship. Book of Order (F-1.0304),
Worship is a word that’s perhaps has come to mean something different in our society and culture. We wor-ship our idols, or certain stars. We worship particular fads and styles. We worship ideas and values such as capitalism, the almighty Dollar. It’s almost as if worship is a way of saying that we love or treasure something greatly.
Formally the word means “an act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity.” It comes from the Old English word weorþscipe, meaning to venerate an object. as in “worthiness or worth-ship”—to give, at its simplest, worth to something.
The Church is called to provide and maintain worship of the God revealed in Jesus the Christ and through the testimonies of the Bible. Worship isn’t just something we do though. It’s also something that acts upon us. A common saying is that we are what we worship or value. Our actions, values, worship shape and form us – our wants, hopes, desires and ways of being in the world. And so the worship of God is something in which we participate and also a dynamic movement that forms and reshapes us into God’s image – who we worship.
Today’s scripture tells the story of Moses encountering God in the burning bush. He’s going about his daily work (shepherding) and encountering something on his path that reroutes his life. He can’t fathom this bush that burns without being consumed, and in that contemplation of beauty, mystery and transcendence he encounters the living God – who was, and is, and is to come. He removes his shoes, recognizing the holiness, the otherness of what’s going on. This worship of God changes him. He goes home a different man, with a new vocation, a new vision of life, of himself, his neighbors and God. That’s what worship does to us. And if you know the story Moses still has a long way to go to become the person that God intends for him to be. Worship is both a concrete act, we do as individuals and a community; and it’s also something that we do again and again a process of transformation. Maybe that’s why the word in Hebrew for Worship Avodah. [עבודה ] also means work and service. Avodah worship is in all of life, all that we do and all that we are be-coming.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION & EXAMEN:
• What engaged you, enraged you, or surprised you in the text?
• How do you experience worship? How do you define what it is and what it isn’t?
• Think of a powerful moment of worship you’ve lived. What made it powerful? How did it shape you?
• What do you expect and hunger for when you come to worship at CAPC Oakland? In your work life? How are they similar or different?
Download a copy of the text study sheet we’ll use for reflection HERE.