By Not Known

For a long time, Presbyterian services typically began with the words, Let us worship God.

A key word in that statement is us.

Much in the Bible encourages God’s people to come together to admire God, thank him, confess sins, learn from him, thank him and ask things of him. The Old Testament church came together in the tent sanctuary and then the temple as a corporate act of worship. While the details of New Testament worship are unclear, it is evident that they had the habit of coming together on a regular basis (eg, Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 16:2; Rev 1:10) – even if some needed reminders about the importance of this (Heb 10:25).

Some prefer not to use the word ‘worship’ for our Sunday gatherings. So, they may be described as ‘church meetings’, ‘church services’ or similar. None wants lifeless liturgy. It is also true that the New Testament does not use the language or worship or religious ritual in its description of Christian gatherings. However, the word ‘worship’ is surely appropriate to those times when we come together to admire, thank, confess, and ask of God. We are not here to be entertained or to serve ourselves, but to acknowledge God as God. This is worship!

Our times of Sunday worship need preparation. This may include making peace with someone we have offended (Mt 5:23-24). It also includes reminding ourselves of who God is and what he has done for us in Jesus. And it certainly includes examining our attitudes towards those with whom we worship. The church at Corinth included people who treated the Lord’s Supper as a free meal and arrived early to eat greedily and who were insensitive to the consciences of others. Paul rebukes these attitudes and urges that we act as members of the one body of Christ (1 Cor 11-14, esp 10:17).

Presbyterian services typically include singing, Bible teaching and prayer. We don’t follow a set liturgy, but instead follow the general Biblical rules of doing all to honour God, build one another up, causing none to stumble and acting in decent good order (1 Cor 10:31,26; 14:26,40).

Let us prayerfully examine our attitudes to our Sunday worship. Are we coming to acknowledge God’s worthiness and submit to him, or to demand that God give what we want? Are we insistent that services should be run as we want, or are we concerned to meet the needs of others? Then, let us worship God … in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:23).