Monday, November 13, 2006

God Serving Us

We usually think of worship as our action. And there it truth to that. We do, after all, do things in worship. But when you take a look at what actually happens in worship is has a lot more to do with what God does than what we do. He actually serves us. All the stuff we do is in response to His love for us that He gives us in the Gospel, in Baptism, and in the Lord's Supper. God served us by sending His only-begotten Son to live and die and rise from the grave. This is how He saved us. In worship the Holy Spirit delivers forgiveness to us. The introduction to the hymnal Lutheran Worship expresses well what worship is:

Our Lord speaks and we listen. His Word bestows what it says. Faith that is born from what is heard acknowledges the gifts received with eager thankfulness and praise. Music is drawn into this thankfulness and praise, enlarging and elevating the adoration of our gracious giver God.

Saying back to Him what He has said to us, we repeat what is most true and sure. Most true and sure is His Name, which He put upon us with the water of our Baptism. We are His. This we acknowledge at the beginning of the Divine Service. Where His Name is, there is He. Before Him we acknowledge that we are sinners, and we plead for forgiveness. His forgiveness is given us, and we, freed and forgiven, acclaim Him as our great and gracious God as we apply to ourselves the words He has used to make Himself known to us.

The rhythm of our worship is from Him to us, and then from us back to Him. He gives His gifts, and together we receive and extol them. We build one another up as we speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Our Lord gives us His body to eat and His blood to drink. Finally His blessing moves us out into our calling, where His gifts have their fruition. How best to do this we may learn from His Word and from the way His Word has prompted His worship through the centuries. We are heirs of an astonishingly rich tradition. Each generation receives from those who went before and, in making that tradition of the Divine Service its own, adds what best may serve in its own day—the living heritage and something new.

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