The Wonder of Worship

Last Friday, I had a chance to attend Great Vespers at the local Antiochian Orthodox church. For one hour, I became lost in a liturgy that (I’m guessing) traces its origins back to the early centuries of the first millennium. And I sensed the presence of God’s spirit more than I have in weeks, if not months.

I know, I know. Some of you wouldn’t have shared that experience. It would have seemed forced, stale, even boring. And I’ve been thinking about that a lot since Friday.

People meet God in a dizzying array of places. Some in liturgies, some in silence, some in acapella music, some through the stylings of modern rock. Some of us have a sense that he is present, speaking to us. Others never "hear" a thing. Still others come to know God when they serve the oppressed.

For the most part, these experiences will resonate with some of us, and they will be totally lost on others.

Is there something wrong with this?

I don’t think so. Instead, I think that God "comes at" us in many ways. I’ve come to appreciate beautiful things about God through the rigorous, systematic study of scripture. Others haven’t. But unlike me, someone else may touch the heart of God as a result of fervent prayer and worship in a Charismatic church.

The key, I think, is not to criticize each other, but to savor the richness of God’s revelation. We should celebrate each others’ experiences, even when we do not share them.

God’s spirit is present in any place where he is sought. The prayer of the moment and the centuries-old liturgy are both gifts from the Spirit. And we should not be surprised to find him present in either case.

6 Responses to The Wonder of Worship

  1. […] I came across this post – The Wonder of Worship – that I thought was worth sharing.Hope you enjoy […]

  2. Thurman8er says:

    But if we can’t criticize each other, who CAN we criticize???

    I envy your experience, bro.

  3. Fremen_Warrior66 says:

    I think a lot of time the finger pointing is due to suspicions that the spirit isn’t a part of the other at all.

    “That’s not what speaking in tongues really looks like!” or “That’s not really how you’re supposed to worship God!”.

    Should we even attempt to discern when the spirit is working and suppress those things which are not being worked with by the spirit?

    When should we step in and say, “Hey I don’t think this is spiritually healthy” and when should we say “Hey its not my thing, but if it works for you great!”?

  4. Matt says:

    Thurm – you mean that you don’t have an Antiochian Orthodox Church around the corner from your house?! Too bad.

    Fremen – I’ve sat in charismatically-driven modern rock praise concerts, simple acapella worship assemblies, and Catholic weddings and Christenings. And as far as I could tell, God showed up every time. I guess I’m for spending less time trying to “discern” where God’s spirit is and isn’t present and more time listening to and celebrating the “God” experiences of our friends, even where we don’t share them in exactly the same way.

  5. toby says:

    Great post! What has been interesting for me to see is that some people come to the presence of God in ways other than “worshipping”. For some it is through Bible study, others it is through service, while others it is through solitude. I enter God’s presence and “hear” his voice mainly through semi-charismatic rock music worship as well as solitude somewhere in nature, preferbly where there is water. The beauty of God’s creativity is our diversity and the many wdifferent ays He is calling each of us to Him.

  6. osipov says:

    The Orthodox church is the first “church” . . . the church began in the East – remember? My husband refers to the Russian Orthodox Church as “THE” church. He reminds me the church didn’t begin on Main Street U.S.A.

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