What is worship?

Worship is one of those churchy words that is thrown around without being defined, we just assume everyone knows what it means and what we have to do.

But do we really know?

A few weeks ago I was watching an historical drama and was struck when an older man told the father of a seemingly disrespecting son that the son did in fact ‘worship’ his father. We can find references to people ‘worshipping’ each other in a lot of older books and movies. The image that emerges from these is not a child bowing down to their parent, but someone who holds that person in high esteem and talks about them in a positive manner, even if they don’t show it all the time.

Is this how the early church worshipped God?

In Hebrew worship means to prostrate and bend down or kneel in front of God, and also to venerate and showing humility. In Greek worship means to glorify, and also to offer reverence and respect. In Aramaic worship means to serve and pay homage.

Worship then is not an over the top public display like something out of a movie where characters bow down and say they are unworthy. Jesus never asked us to do that.

Worship is humbling ourselves and admitting our faults, assured that we are forgiven before we even ask.

Worship is speaking respectfully in our prayers and speaking respectfully about God when we talk of our faith.

Worship is thanking God for all the gifts we have received and recognizing that God is there with us during the hard times.

Worship is singing songs that express our faith in ways we’ve never thought about before.

Worship is sitting with God and listening to the ancient words and the modern whispers of the Holy Spirit.

Worship is dancing and jumping and twirling as we feel the energy of God all around us.

We can worship God however we feel. The only rule about worship is our willingness to come to God just as we are. Angry, sad, joyful, hopeful, curious, lethargic… we worship God with all parts of ourselves. God wants that honesty.

“… how long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!” (Psalm 13:2-3a)

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