Worship in the Christian tradition has included both the reading of Scripture and its preaching, as well as the celebration of the Sacraments, common prayers, and the fellowship of the believers together. Indeed, the pattern of "Word and Table," held together, is fully attested to in Scripture, and particularly in the Acts of the Apostles, were we are told how the early Church met for worship:
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42 NRSV)
When we gather together to worship, we proclaim that we do so in fellowship not just with those gathered there, but also with all those who are, or ever have been, Disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ throughout all time and space. When we worship, we are engaged in multiple forms of the Means of Grace, forms through which we both receive God's Grace and participate in the expression of God's Grace to others. The Means of Grace in worship include the Sacraments and the Sacramental acts, about which we've already written, but worship is also, itself, a Means of Grace. When we worship Jesus, we assign "worth" to Him. When we worship Jesus, we proclaim that God is of principle importance to us. When we worship Jesus, we celebrate His Divine presence with us and our membership in His Holy Body. Our Fellowship together, both with God and with each other, is empowered by the unitive "glue" of the Holy Spirit. This wonderful presence of God in our lives doesn't just knit us together, nor is it just a theoretical union, lacking substance for our daily living. No, indeed, the unitive power of God in the presence of the Holy Spirit moves us forward, through God's Sanctifying Grace, toward Perfection in the Love of Christ; this love is manifested both in the Community of Faith and in our openness to reaching out to others with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed. In other words, our Worship and our Fellowship together is yet another means by which we come into full communion with the Grace of God. As such, it most certainly is a Means of Grace.
Above, I said that in our Worship we assign to Jesus great "worth." This is very true. We give praise and honor and glory to Jesus; we proclaim him Lord and Savior; we declare His mighty deeds in his life and ministry, death and resurrection; we affirm His continuing presence among us; we truly do assign Jesus worth when we Worship together. But our worship of Jesus doesn't just include what we say to and about Jesus in our worship. No, the worth we assign to Jesus is expressed in and through what we do with our time and -- gasp -- with what we do with our money. How we spend our time, and how we spend our money, reflects where we place our worth. If we esteem ourselves to be of great worth, we'll spend our time and our money on ourselves; if we esteem our family to be of great worth, we'll spend our time and our money on our families; if we esteem our nation to be of great worth, we'll spend our time and our money in lifting up our nation; if we esteem God in Jesus Christ to be be of great worth, we'll spend our time and our money in those things that God thinks are important ... in proclaiming and living the Gospel, in giving our time and resources to His Body, in demonstrating the worth of our faith by what we do and how we give. When we worship Christ Jesus, we engage in an important Means of Grace. Are you neglecting God's Grace by worshiping elsewhere? Ask yourself ... who do you worth-ship?
© 1999, Rev. Gregory S. Neal
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