“Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our maker!"
I’ve been pondering worship for a long time—years really. Is it merely a synonym for what I do on Sunday morning? Is it only the part of the Sunday morning service that involves singing? My answer is no.
Worship is so much more. Psalm 95, Jesus' request in Gethsemane, my desire to trust, and the Christmas narrative have all given me glimpses into my understanding of worship.
When Jesus invited Peter, James, and John to accompany Him to Gethsemane before His crucifixion, He had one request of them: watch and pray.
He was asking them to be spiritually awake, to have the alertness of a nighttime guard who does not have the advantage of light, to be hyper-vigilant. Kind of like the shepherds who were guarding the sheep the night Jesus was born.
Watching must be a part of worship. God is asking me to be awake and alert to his activity all around me, to use all my senses, not only what my eyes see.
“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us' ” (Luke 2:15). The shepherds’ worship started with being aware, aware that the message of the angels was a message from God. And they trusted. I’m thinking even their journey was an act of worship.
Their worship was contagious: "All
who heard it [about the birth of Jesus] wondered at what the shepherds told them” (Luke 2:18); "Mary
treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19); “And the shepherds
returned glorifying and praising God” (Luke 2:20; emphasis mine).
The wise men, those familiar with Old Testament prophecy, followed a star to find Jesus. “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts” (Matthew 2:10,11).
The wise men trusted. Their worship also began with a journey; led to rejoicing, awe, and giving gifts. It was a great celebration.
The shepherds and the wise men hurried to be with Jesus, into His physical presence. An appropriate response to the invitation they received to come into His presence.
I, too, want to respond in worship to the invitation that is always there for me to come into His presence. I want to watch, to be hyper-vigilant to the activity of God all around me. I want to respond in trust like the shepherds and the wise men. I want the experience of celebration to characterize my worship on normal, everyday Tuesdays and during the wonder that Christmas day brings.
I love the traditional Christmas hymn Angels from the Realms of Glory.
to be reminded of the Christmas story and our invitation to come and worship.
Sue and her husband, Bill, have served on Navigator staff since 1972. Although their roles have changed over the years, the campus ministry has always been a part. Currently Sue’s home is in Nav Encore. Bill is in The Navigators Staff Development & Care. Sue’s loves are writing her faith-based blog, Echoes of Grace, facilitating Sabbath-Living retreats, and connecting with several young Collegiate staff women across the country. Her blogs post at suetell.com each Thursday.