Repent of casualness in worship

So says one theologian, whose exhortation deserves a close reading and strict heeding.

He says, in part,

Since Adam was expelled from the garden, humanity had longed to return. Century after century, no one did. Armed cherubim, veils, and locked doors kept everyone on the outside. When the glory descended, even the priests had to scatter from the Most Holy Place. Then, at long last, John heard these words: “Come up here.”

Now for some disparate thoughts on worship.

Someone wrote earlier today that kids are text-messaging during worship. Elders must move them to repent (parents, to discipline), and repent themselves for not taking action.

Perhaps we should include, as some groups do, a call to worship at the beginning of our assemblies, to remind ourselves that we his people are being ushered into the Lord’s presence.

That’s better than what some churches do — start a song to quieten people down. Shameful!

Praise teams, praise music and contemporary worship have not elevated our sense of the divine presence in worship, but coarsened our spirits to be titillated by sensual and visual stimulation. We miss seeing the Invisible.

Our worship, also, has been sanitized. The blood and gore of the cross have been mopped up. Little individualized cups in cloth-lined trays for silent sips, bite-sized bread to avoid messy crumbs. God forbid someone should hear us chew! We miss the messiness of Emmanuel.

But messiness is not casualness nor levity.

I deplore the actions of the minister who began wearing priestly robes to worship, but I think I understand part of his motivation — to inject dignity into our meeting — and appreciate it.

We need not, however, drape the body for worship, but reshape the heart to grasp the divine and tear our souls in repentance, that we be given mercy to stand with confidence before the Sovereign Lord who calls us together before him.

Worship demands dignity and solemnity, but not stodginess. Joy cannot be contained, but neither must it slosh over into sloppiness.

The main issue, probably, is emotional burnout. We’ve thrilled ourselves to death. Worship doesn’t send a shiver up our legs. So it’s ho-hum, ho-hum, to dreary church we go.

With those scars in our stomachs, no wonder we miss the Lord.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

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