Summary: Message 1 of 3 in the series "The Heart of Worship". This message explores the question, "Is true worship dependant upon where you are and what you are doing?"
the presence of worship
READ AT BEGINNING OF SERVICE:
Luke 7:36-50 (NIV)
36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is--that she is a sinner." 40 Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said. 41 "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" 43 Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said. 44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." 48 Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." 49 The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" 50 Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
Looking in Webster’s dictionary you’ll find this first definition for worship, "reverence, homage or honor paid to God" Then it goes on to say that the word is also used to refer to a place where this reverence, homage, etc. paid to God is given.
If you were to ask people what the word worship meant you would probably get a large variety of responses. Some might agree with Webster, some might say it is when you sing songs to God, some might say it is going to church, some might say it is when you place money in the offering plate. The reason why you would get such a large number of different answers is because the word "worship" is used in so many different contexts. While preparing this message I tried to think of all the ways in which I’ve used worship. I’ve said, "Let’s worship God together now" (in reference to singing praises); "Let’s worship God with our tithes and offerings"; "I worship you Lord"; "Why don’t you come and worship God with us" (while inviting someone to our church).
While looking closely at the contexts in which the word worship is often used I found that it often refers to an action we do. Whether it be singing a chorus, going to church, placing money in an offering plate, raising our hands – etc. When I undertook to study this concept – this word, "worship" – I discovered that worship is much more than this. I’ve come to discover that you can be doing all these things and still not be entering into the place of worshipping God.I like what Robert Webber wrote about worship,
We need to let go of our intellectual idea of worship and realize there is more to worship than a sermon; we have to let go of our evangelistic notion of worship and reckon with the fact that worship is not primarily directed toward the sinners who need to be converted; we must let go of our entertainment expectations and remind ourselves that we are not in church to watch a Christian variety show. We have gathered together in worship to be met by God the Almighty. God, the Creator of the universe, the One who sustains our lives, our Redeemer and King, is present through proclamation and remembrance. He wants to communicate to us, to penetrate our inner self, to take up residence within us. And, as we go through the experience of meeting with him in this mystical moment of public worship, we are to respond. But response is not just singing a hymn, not just saying a creed, not just saying a prayer. Response, from the very beginning of worship to the end, must be a powerful inner experience of actually being in the presence of God. When we sing a hymn or say a confession or prayer, we are not singing or saying words, but expressing a feeling, bringing our souls, truly responding and communicating to the living and active presence of a loving and merciful God. (Worship is a Verb, by Robert Webber, pg.114)