Preparing for Worship – Doug Haney, associate pastor.
There was a period of several years at Wilshire when the heading at the top of every worship order read: “The Worship of God.” That’s what we say we are doing when we gather in the Wilshire Sanctuary. But what does it mean to state that God is the object of our worship?
- God is our audience. For worship geeks like me, somewhere in our study we came across a worship analogy offered by the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard wrote that worship is like going to a play at a theater where the people in the pew are the actors, the worship leaders are prompters whispering lines from the wings of the stage, and God is the audience. Consider how radical this picture is to our worship-as-a-commodity culture. We may think those on the chancel are the center of action and the worshipers are an audience. But let us resist an entertainment mindset and choose the countercultural position: the object of worship is God.
- God deserves our best. When I was a child, my family attended the First Baptist Church of Alpharetta, Georgia. In the 1960s the Sunday School lesson materials for children often included poster-sized pictures of Bible stories. One picture etched in my memory illustrates the moment when the people of Israel wandering in the wilderness hear God’s call to build a tabernacle, a portable worship center. As the story is told in the Bible, all the families are asked to bring their very best to contribute to the making of the tabernacle: gold and silver and jewels. I can still see the girls and boys and adults in the colorful picture bringing their most treasured items and placing them on an exquisite Persian rug. (Isn’t it interesting how such a lesson was absorbed by a child? It just underscores that teaching children matters.) For me, the message is still compelling: whatever we do in worship, God deserves our very best.
My prayer for Wilshire is that we continue to make the worship of God a priority. We will always have conversations about what this means for our time. God is in the details, no doubt. Soli Deo gloria.