A couple of months ago I wrote a blog post on the shape of our corporate worship and how we seek to reenact the gospel within the order of our worship services. If you were not able to read that post or you would like to go back and read it again you can find it HERE. Today I would like to talk a little more about why we have a Call to worship and what it means.
Call to Worship
In our worship services we read our Call to Worship from God’s Word to remind us that we do not join together and “conjure” up God’s presence by our singing or praying or a certain atmosphere that we create. This is important because we can often be confused about this idea. I recently saw a video of a worship service where one of the leaders talked about how we “cultivate” God’s presence as we sing songs of worship to Him. Now, I am sure that this person had very good intentions and probably didn’t think through the connotations of what he was saying, but it is very easy for us to think that unless we sing loud enough or feel a certain way or whatever that God’s presence will not be among us. This is actually a form of works-based righteousness and it can be harmful.
God is always with us and among us as believers, but when we gather as the church to worship His presence is among us in a special and distinct way. The Christian’s faith is not a solitary faith, but a very corporate one. Together we make up the body and the bride of Christ and are called a royal priesthood and a people for his own possession (see Matthew 11, 1 Cor.11-14, 1 Peter 2:4-12, and many others for further study on this topic). We are called to “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal. 6:2). Again, this is done in a corporate context.
So, why do I bring all of these things up? Hopefully this is a reminder that we have been called to this by God Himself, because of Jesus. He has called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9). Even the Greek word used for church in the New Testament is ekklesia, which many scholars interpret to mean “the called out ones.” The point is this –gathering to worship God is not something that we have thought up and we don’t need to invite Him into our gathering. It is His idea and He invites us to gather together to experience His presence.
So, we read from God’s Word as our Call to Worship to reorient ourselves to these amazing truths. Have you understood our corporate gathering in this way? If not, does this help you to feel more freedom to worship God knowing that His presence is already among us?
For this Sunday
This Sunday we will be singing a couple of songs that we have only sung a few times before and I would like to bring your attention to them and remind you of them as you prepare to worship. The first one is The King of Love My Shepherd Is. This is a wonderful paraphrase of Psalm 23 that is set to a traditional Irish melody. You can hear a version of this song below.
The other song we will be singing that may be a little less familiar will be We Will Feast in the House of Zion. This song is based on Isaiah 25 and reminds of the suffering we experience now and how it doesn’t compare to the eternal weight of glory that we will experience when we are finally in the presence of Christ and experience Him face-to-face. The words of this song give great hope and comfort. You can also listen to a version of this song below. Here are the words:
We will feast in the house of Zion
We will sing with our hearts restored
He has done great things, we will say together
We will feast and weep no more
We will not be burned by the fire
He is the LORD our God
We are not consumed, by the flood
Upheld, protected, gathered up (Chorus)
In the dark of night, before the dawn
My soul, be not afraid
For the promised morning, oh how long?
Oh God of Jacob, be my strength (Chorus)
Every vow we’ve broken and betrayed
You are the Faithful one
And from the garden to the grave
Bind us together, bring shalom. (Chorus)
As always, we ask that you would pray for the service and all who are leading that we may realize that magnitude of what we get to do week after week as we meet God in corporate worship. Pray that God would work in our hearts to prepare each one of us and that the gospel would be central to all that we say and do. You can see the Order of Worship HERE.
See you Sunday!