Summary: We can join in worship of Emmanuel -- God With Us -- the One Who took on human flesh, was born of a woman, lived among people, died on the cross and was resurrected by the power of the Living God.
Worship in Heart and Praise
Pastor Don Walker
Twentieth Street Baptist Church,
Morning, December 24, 2000
Every Sunday we have a “Call to Worship.” In ancient times, a ram’s horn was used to call Israel to worship. We were called to worship today with the choir singing “How Great Our Joy” and scripture from the psalms and Isaiah.
With this we are
Called from the hustle and bustle of the season…
Called from the panic and utter exhaustion of
trying to do it all…
Called from family joys and conflicts…
Called from good food and drink…
We are called to express our feeling about God and expose the condition of our hearts. It is love expressed in the freedom of being in the presence of God. But some do have questions about worship.
I. Three Normal Discussion Questions about Worship
A. When we should worship.
1. Not as hot a question today as it was in years gone by.
a. The larger Christian community has favored Sunday.
1) Free of the Sabbath obligations in Old Testament law
2) Acknowledging that it was on the first day of the week that Jesus rose.
b. A smaller segment of the Christian population has favored Saturday.
1) Belief that Christians are legally and morally bound to obey the Ten Commandments including the Sabbath legislation.
c. In recent times, still others have sought to add to corporate worship times with multiple Sunday services, Wednesday evening services, and, more rarely, services on Friday, Saturday or other days.
2. But there is also the discussion of the time of day when an individual Christian should worship.
a. Some say that a Christian should worship as he rises from bed each morning.
b. Others prefer that worship take place just before retiring for the night.
c. And of course there are those who would insist that real Christians worship 24 hrs. per day, seven days per week.
3. But to be honest, in our day the discussion of when boils down to: we worship when it is convenient for us.
B. A second question about worship is where.
1. Some insist that true worship can only take place in a sanctified facility.
2. Others maintain that any place a Christian is, is a place where he may worship.
3. In the days of the Patriarchs there was no particular place of worship.
a. In at least one case, Abraham worshipped atop Mt. Moriah, (Gen. 22.5)
b. Abraham’s servant worshipped the Lord at the well where he found Rebekah, (Gen. 24.26).
c. Jacob built an altar to the Lord and called it Beth-El during a journey, (Gen. 28.19).
d. The elders of the enslaved Israelites worshipped at an impromptu gathering, (Ex. 4:52).
4. During the time in the wilderness and in the early days of settlement in the Promised Land, Israel was commanded to center its official worship around the Tabernacle.
5. Solomon built the first permanent place of worship.
a. It was destroyed and rebuilt and continued to be the place of worship in the life of Israel through the time of Jesus.
b. During the time of the destruction of the temple and Babylonian captivity, the synagogue was developed as a place of worship.
6. The early Christians met for a while in the synagogues, but quite commonly found other places of worship.
a. In Jerusalem, they met in "Solomon’s porch"…
b. and in an upper room…
c. and at homes of individuals.
7. In modern times questions are far ranging.
a. Do we need corporate worship or even buildings?
b. Should church buildings be single use, dedicated solely to worship, or multi-use facilities that house worship at times, and other activities at other times.
c. Can you really have a place of worship at the Mall or in some other secular location?
8. Where should be worship is a hot question for some, but the most volatile worship related issue is…
C. How we should worship.
1. This usually reverts to questions about styles of music and what should we do with our hands.
2. When it comes to music that is appropriate for worship there are varied opinions.
a. Some think we should only sing Psalms.
b. Others think we should sing only hymns that tend to be older than the worshippers.
c. While there are a few who think that any song with even the slightest hint of "spiritual" overtones will do.
d. Some prefer traditional music; some southern gospel; some contemporary; and some, "Christian rock."
3. Then there is the question of how energetic the music should be.
a. Should it be vivacious enough to demonstrate excitement about godly things?
b. On the other hand is energetic hand-clapping (maybe even foot stomping) music irreverent and shouldn’t we have slower, more majestic music that encourages reflection and meditation.