Friday, November 18, 2005


The Greatest Gift

Lu asks the question "What is worship?" on her Blog. This was prompted by a discussion that started on the Mosaic Nashville forum, and was then taken up by Dawn on her Blog. It makes for interesting reading, especially when you compare what they write with some of the airy theorizing and self-congratulation that goes on elsewhere.

Some people do. They tend to be rough, never really together, unpolished, somewhat confused as they try to assemble facts and hold them just long enough to take the next step. Other people talk, building fancy castles in the sky from lovely, trendy words and impressing each other with the depth of their knowledge.

Lu's post knocked my socks off. She had a short post last week that said she finally "got it," and while I'm still waiting for some details (Please?), it's one of the few things I've read about worship that really makes any sense. I suppose that's just another way of saying that she has come up with a view of worship that agrees with mine, but when it's clear that present system and ideas don't work, it's time to get radical.

God gave us a radical gift, a Person, His Son. Then he goes on to give us a continuous gift, the Holy Spirit. He is worthy of worship, but worship doesn't come out of a pump, like air for a tire.

I used to be really confused about the Holy Spirit. My ideas were colored by the antics of charismatic churches, which I'd seen in action. It seemed another way of putting pizzazz into things without really accomplishing anything. As with the movie business, it was all for show.

If there's any reality to Jesus, there must be a way to learn about Him. This isn't New Age feel-good stuff, where you take some ideas and toss them like salad to make a dish that's just like the others but organized a little differently. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, objectively real, teaching us how to live in an invisible but no less objectively real world. He's always there, always personally involved in teaching what we need to know. I got introduced in one remarkable class, when Greg Soo Hoo said that each Christian should start the day by asking the Holy Spirit to empower her or him to live that day. The teaching process is life long, and I don't mean physical life. I expect that the Holy Spirit will be teaching us forever.

Until that class with Greg, I'd thought the Holy Spirit was for the super-Christians, those with lots of years of study and learning. When you're good enough, you get the Holy Spirit involved in your life. That's not true. The Holy Spirit gives himself to us, any of us, because we need him. Otherwise we can't see the reality of spiritual warfare that has our world in complete thrall.

Worship is life. Jesus' life was in worship of his father, and the Holy Spirit will bring that about in me if I let him work. Worship is like the light coming out of a lamp when it's lit: the lamp can't help being bright. God has poured himself out for us and we will glow to the extent that we allow Him to change our so sadly fallen beings into what he intended from the beginning.

In church this is all a mechanical process. The band plays, the people speak, and the director makes sure everyone keeps to the schedule. I'm not sure church is about worship. Church may be, as it was for me, a place where people see an active God in action, working in people's lives. Do I worship in church? No. I worship by living my life, stopping along the trail to look at the details of new spring flowers... in November.

I have a good friend whom I've never met face-to-face. We meet for music and conversation in the 3-D graphic world of Until Uru. We've been doing this for about six months. She said recently that I had a sort of glow. We'd been talking about God. I don't know what her beliefs are in any detail, but I'd been talking about how God seems delighted with each new day that comes up and I've not quit.

Lu, in her post about worship, asks if many of her daily actions constitute worship. I'd say yes: all of the above. I may be living in dreamland, but it seems to me pretty simple. Look to God, look at him, the communication comes and goes, and there's a constant direction and pressure to change into the likeness of Jesus. No quantity of fancy words will ever replace a simple, direct and true statement of "God, I need help." He loves to help people. The most important thing to do is fold up the umbrella we use to keep God's blessings from touching our delicately balanced lives.

(rewritten November 19)

Really good stuff, Larry. Thanks!
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