At least once a week,
Christians meet together for worship. We gather at particular places, at
particular times, and we worship in particular ways. But whatever our own
place, time and way, the essence of Christian worship is always the same. It’s
our response, as believers, to what God has done.
In worship, we recall what
God has done in the past. We take joy in what he is doing now. And we look
forward to what he will yet do in the future. We rehearse, re-enact,
participate, proclaim and celebrate. We listen to his Word. We confess, repent
and intercede. We praise, rejoice and give thanks!
The ancient Israelites
worshipped God as a response to the miraculous things that He had done for
them—saving them from Egypt, bringing them into the Promised Land and making
them his own people. It was a specific system of worship that God gave them,
and it was temporary, designed to last until the coming of the promised
From the very beginning,
God planned to use Jesus to do something amazingly new and transcendent, not
just for Israel, but for all people, everywhere. As a result, the worship
practices of God’s people demanded something new, in response to the new
thing God had done.
The content and form of
worship is a direct reflection of the fundamental beliefs of God’s people.
Jesus summarized the essence of Christian belief in Luke 24:44-48:
”‘This is what I told you
while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about
me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Then he opened their
minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is
written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and
repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all
nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.’”
Likewise, Paul recorded the
heart of the Christian faith in his letter to the church at Corinth:
“For what I received I
passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins
according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the
third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then
to the Twelve.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5).
Christian worship centers
on the new thing that God has done in his own Son, for the salvation of the
whole world. That’s what everything written in the Old Testament was for.
That’s what it pointed to. It is what we are witnesses to, and that’s why we worship.
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking