Published in Church and Life (1848)28.3.2-13 – 24.4.2013 No 5
Worshiping God is at the centre of church life. Everything else we do in or around the church i.e. teaching, volunteering, preaching, caring for the poor, giving money, cutting the grass, serving on parish councils etc. either prepare us to worship or express the worship we have in our soul. If worship is absent then any of the efforts we make around the church do not make sense and can become negative. If we believe and worship God then our presence and work around the church take their proper meaning.
Worship is the expression of love and devotion to God. This comes from our recognition that He has given us love and blessing and we in turn are profoundly grateful to Him.
In the Bible we read that the blind man after being asked if he believed said; “I believe, Lord and worshipped Him” (John 9:38).
When we worship we acknowledge that God has done something for us and as a result we are grateful. Not everybody who receives good things from someone is grateful for the gift. We are offended when people do not acknowledge our gifts to them.
Whenever we make a prostration, light a candle or even cross ourselves without this being connected to our need to worship God, then these become somewhat meaningless and can even appear to be ritualistic, cultural only or even superstitious. The intention to worship God is so very important in our religious life.
When we begin our Divine Liturgy we say at the very start, “In peace let us pray to the Lord”. This is so because God accepts the prayer of those who love Him and their fellowman. When we sin we are not in peace with ourselves or with God. Sin destroys us because it takes us away from God and our fellowman. Jesus tells us directly that when we go to the altar we should “go first and be reconciled with your brother. Then come and offer your gift” (Mt 5.24).
Perhaps too many people go to church to fulfil their religious obligations instead of as one member of a family who are all members of the Body of Christ.
A Divine Liturgy cannot be offered without a priest, but a priest cannot offer the Liturgy without the people. The two go together as they always did from the time people started to worship God.
There is an old saying, “He who sins, can repent. He who does not know, can be taught. But the one who is indifferent, cannot be saved”. The biggest undertaking of the church today is to confront this indifference.
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