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Apr 2011

Sunday Rhythm | God Calls His People To Worship | Adoration

<My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. – Psalm 121:2

Last week, we discussed how our services begin with God calling his people to worship. This week, we continue to discuss our desire to reflect the gospel in everything we do. Our Sunday Rhythm then becomes a “re-presentation” of the gospel. By our gathering together in worship, we extol, embrace, and share the story of the progress of the gospel in our lives. In his book, Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice, author and pastor Bryan Chapell goes on to talk about “re-presenting” the gospel in our services:

    When the gospel is embraced, it controls. It controls lives, affecting hearts, values, and commitments. The stories of those lives are reflected in the structures of their endeavors and achievements. Thus, structures tell life stories, revealing the principles and priorities of the people who formed them. The structure of a church’s liturgy also inevitably tells its understanding of the gospel story. This means the worship structures that communicate the gospel are themselves shaped by the gospel. “The medium is the message” because the message shapes the medium.

Our order of service, and the scriptures we read, prayers we pray, and songs we sing at our Sunday gatherings cannot simply be a matter of arbitrary choice, tradition, personal preference, or cultural appeal. If we truly believe that there are foundational truths in the gospel of Christ’s redeeming work, then our worship structures should tell this story consistently, including the rhythm of our service. And just as idolatry begins with improper recognition of God, we want to begin our services with right recognition of his nature and attributes. We do this primarily by using scriptures and prayers that help inform the goodness, grace, greatness, and glory of God, and by singing songs that ascribe to God his “worth.” Recognition of God’s true nature begins the flow of the gospel story not just in the progress of our service, but also in our hearts.

Historically, this liturgical component has been called adoration. Adoration is simply the point in the service where we recognize God’s greatness and grace. Beginning worship with this sort of recognition is appropriate because in such praise and acknowledgment we recognize our God’s true nature. This is a proper priority, not simply because it makes logical sense, but also because it makes gospel sense. We honor, bow before, love, seek, and obey God’s true nature begins the flow of the gospel story not just in the progress of worship, but also in our heart. Seeing this pattern helps us understand how the gospel forms the worship structures that communicate it.

We want to worship God according to this gospel pattern not because we want to impose some sort of arbitrary worship rules, but because the content of the gospel shapes our response to it. We love God because he has revealed the gospel to us, so it is naturally that our expression of love would be framed by the contours of his redemptive work. Worship is our love response to his loving provision, so nothing is more honoring of his grace than making its themes our own. We honor God, confess the need of his Son, claim his pardon, bolster our obedience, bless our neighbor, and testify of our Savior when our worship echoes the gospel that both saves and sustains us.



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