What Exactly Is Worship?
We regularly talk about going “to” worship. As a pastor’s kid, growing up literally next door to the church, going “to” worship wasn’t that far of a trek. But for the past 8 weeks, our going “to” worship has looked quite different, hasn’t it?
Our corporate worship gatherings haven’t happened in the usual manner because of having to stay apart. And while some of us recently started to worship corporately together again, I thought that this would be an opportune time to dive into the question of what exactly is worship?
There’s two types of worship I’m going to unpack:
Defining Corporate Worship
We’ll start with corporate worship. In my studies on worship, corporate worship is the gathering of God’s people. His body, together. In this time, God comes to us and speaks to us through His Word, Sacraments and through the message shared by the Pastor. Of course, the other component of that is the fellowship, God’s people united and gathered together.
Obviously, if we’re practicing social distancing as we have over the past 6 weeks, our “together” looks a whole lot different. We’re not physically gathered together in the same location. We’re in our living rooms, bedrooms, backyards, kitchens, etc. But we still are corporately worshiping, even if we’re not able to fully participate in the fellowship or in the Sacraments. God still comes to us through His Word, through the message, and through the songs that we sing.
Defining Individual Worship
Individual worship is just that; worshipping on your own. It could be as you take a walk through your neighborhood, as you listen to music, as you read the Bible, whatever the case may be.
When I lived in Portland, Oregon, one of the ways that I would individually worship would be to go for a drive. About an hour away from my home was Multnomah Falls, a beautiful waterfall right off of Interstate 84. Sometimes I would even drive all the way up to Mt. Hood. On most non-cloudy days (which was hit and miss in Portland), you could clearly see Mt. Hood off in the distance. I woud sit, stare, and be in awe of God’s creation as I drove.
In this time of having our busy schedules put on hold, I think we have an opportunity to have more times of individual worship. When I’ve found myself starting to complain or be frustrated by the situation, I turn my focus on what God has done and focus on creation. I stop to listen to the birds, look up at the sky and see the work God has done and praise God for His work.
Defining Individual Worship
While this is an unusual time, and we don’t quite know when this will end, we still have opportunities to worship. Our corporate gatherings don’t look too corporate right now, but God understands. He’s seeing all of this from a bigger picture than we can see. What comes of all of this remains to be known, but God already knows it.
As we’re looking at the book of James, this verse stood out to me this week. It’s James 1:17, and it says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." It is comforting to remember that no matter what goes on, whether it is good or bad, God, who is unchangeable, is giving us every good and perfect gift. And even in the midst of this unknown time, God is still blessing us with many gifts.
We just have to look around and see them. And that’s where worship comes in, whether individual or corporate. It takes the focus off of us and our struggles, and puts our focus on God, and helps us to remember how blessed we truly are.
I pray that God uses your times of worship, whether individual or corporate, to remind you of those blessings.