Monday, May 25, 2009

On Worship

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I love babies. I think they are one of God's greatest creations. I smooch on one at least 72 times every day.

I love Mommas. I am one. I have one.

I love our flag and our country. I love the men and women who have served to protect our freedoms. We are headed out the door in a few minutes to attend a parade in honor of the fallen heroes who have given their lives in service to our great land.

I love Daddies and Sunday school teachers and elderly folks and half century or more marriages.

I think all of those groups should be honored and praised and respected.

But when I attend worship services every Sunday morning, I am there to worship and honor and praise a certain risen Savior who died for me when I was yet a sinner, unclean. He, alone, is worthy to be praised.

I am unworthy of His wonderful gift of salvation and I humble myself in His presence.

I do not think it is appropriate to honor and praise any of the above groups I mentioned during a worship assembly. That is why, on Mother's Day, when the mothers in the crowd were asked to stand to be recognized, I found a reason to bend over and dig in the recesses of my purse for some unknown object.

It feels idolatrous to sing "My Country 'Tis of Thee" and applaud standing veterans of World War II, so I keep my hands in my lap and my lips closed.

Please, understand that I mean no disrespect to the veterans or mothers or teachers or babies or anyone else, but I think there is a time and place for honoring them and a worship service is not it.

Does anyone have a different take on this? I would love to know scriptures that would support this practice.

15 comments:

Harmony said...

Connie, I agree 100%. I love that in our congregation we don't make a big deal of any of those days during service. We might have a potluck after service at the preacher's home, or do something together the night before, or make an announcement after church is over - but worship time is for worshiping God, not honoring men.

Elizabeth said...

Connie,

I think that were we still a physical nation as in the Old Testament when God guided the warriors, then it would be appropriate. However, since now we don't "wrestle" with flesh and blood, our memorials ought to be to those who have fought the spiritual battles -- chiefly the Christ. That said, I think it appropriate to honor men and women who have earned honor and respect, just not using time set aside for worship to do so. I do not see any contradiction to that in the New Testament, just that it is not a part of the worship of the congregation.

Anonymous said...

I recently had cause to be concerned at worship because of a simular situation. On Easter Sunday the church where I worship had a group sing at the front of the church. The sermon was short and the major portiion of the singing was done by the "special group".
Now I have nothing against being entertained by a gospel singing group. But, not during worship service. When I go to worship service, singing is part of my worship to God. I do not attend worship service to be entertained.

Penny Kendall Photography said...

Connie ...I've always felt this way about presenting business and budgets during worship service. If that is a valid concern, then the point you have brought up is valid as well.

I do believe there is a place to honor servants of God while people of God are gathered ... say after worship is completed. The question, I guess, would be where worship begins and ends ... and where if any during corporate worship such honor should be shown.

I don't think I would categorize the blessing of babies with the honoring of moms/veterans. The purpose of this is to dedicate our babies to God and to the raising of them in the Lord.

Thank you for sharing your insight ... thought provoking.

Dana~Are We There Yet? said...

Upon reflection, I wonder if it makes much difference what the goal of such recognition is. When I've been in churches that recognized veterans or other designated groups it has been an occasion for thanking God for His grace and blessing, for dedicating ourselves to His purpose, for falling on His mercy to protect, defend, uphold. I find myself more aware of God's greatness and my need for Him, rather than some person's accomplishment.

At the moment, I'm not able to call to mind a specific Bible verse that either endorses or prohibits such practice. But there aren't verses endorsing air conditioning or indoor plumbing in places of worship either, and I really hope God is for those things. :-)

I heartily agree with your assertion that the purpose of corporate worship is categorically NOT to be entertained, nor to exalt human beings either for their deeds or their stations in life. As a mother, I would not be comfortable standing in the midst of a worship service to receive applause from fellow congregants. I would (and have) stood, head bowed and tears flowing, to be lifted up by my brothers and sisters praying to the God who sustains us all for His blessing and strength.

Sorry for the long comment, Connie. You got me thinking!

Anonymous said...

i DON'T PLEDGE TO OUR FLAG. i'M AS PATTRIOTIC AS ANYONE COULD BE, BUT i WILL ONLY PLEDGE MY LOYALTY TO MY LORD!

LEAH

Smockity Frocks said...

Thanks for your thoughts, ladies!

Honey said...

Over a year ago, our church grieved the loss of a wife and mother of two young children. At the Sunday worship (she died in a car accident on the previous Fri), we sang one song, but it was obvious that many were grieving the loss. Our pastor came to the front and acknowledged what had occured (for those who might not have known) and then proceeded to direct our attention toward the worship of our savior. I think this is biblical. Job worshipped in the midst of his grief and so did David (at the death of his child). In a culture where everyone is so casual about everything, we need to guard the sacredness of worshipping God. So I think, like one other commenter, that AFTER we have worshipped, then it's fine to honor those to whom honor is due. But to always be returning the praise to God from whom all blessings (and difficult circumstances) flow. I don't think we can overlook instances of things that bring glory to God because God designs all things to bring him glory.

Raising Olives said...

Connie,

This is an interesting topic and one where our churches today have really fallen short of God's commands to us as His people. Our church's view (and our family's as well) is that since God is God and since He has told us how He demands to be worshiped, then we must honor Him and follow His command, worshiping Him in the manner that He has prescribed for our worship. If you begin to study and really consider this, you will quickly realize that this goes much farther than simply recognizing groups of people in a worship service.

Our purpose in a worship service is to worship God. He is holy and He has commanded and prescribed how He wants to be worshiped. It is our duty to obey, not to think of ways to make it more enjoyable or entertaining for the participants. The focus must be on the worship of God, not on man's enjoyment.

Blessings,
Kimberly

Amy said...

Very interesting thoughts and discussion. Been mulling it over for a day or two and although I have opinions, I can't come down decisively on one side of the fence or the other.
Thanks for the push for something to think about, pray about, and ponder over!

Smockity Frocks said...

Some additional thoughts bouncing around in my head:

I don't think church leaders sit around thinking, "We are a defiant and arrogant people. How can we exalt ourselves above God this week?"

I do think self centerdness can be subtle and sneak up on us because we are most comfortable when it is all about us.

Ritsumei said...

Let me first say that I hate Mother's Day (many years of infertility made it very painful), but I do think that, handled properly, many of these holidays could be used to enhance our worship of the Lord & study of the gospel. If, rather than honoring Mothers (or Fathers), we used the time to teach about the importance of being Christlike parents, of the importance of parenting, particularly Mothering, which is something that our culture is attacking and yet is terribly important to our ability to raise our children to be good Christians, then it could be useful. Sadly, I don't think that I've ever seen it done that way. In my opinion, talking about those things, as opposed to "my angel-mother" would be just fine.

With veterans, I think there could be the same thing. I believe that God made us free, that the Constitution has been established by Him, and that to honor the Constitution is to honor Him. But I am much less comfortable with the usual "yay veterans!" that you mostly see on Memorial/Veterans day.

These things could be used as teaching opportunities, rather than just a chance to honor some person or groups of people. Teaching, in my mind, is totally appropriate. The other, well, I agree with the group.

Cardamom said...

I agree 100% and praise God for your post. God requires that we set one day aside in seven to worship him. He has told us in His word how He wants to be worshiped. We are there to hear from Him and to respond to Him in spirit and truth.

In our family, we apply this by setting this day aside to worship Him. That means that if one of our birthdays falls on a Sunday, we typically celebrate it on Saturday. Mother's Day and Father's Day events/wishes are usually also the day before, or are a brief part of Sunday afternoon.

It is all too easy for churches, in their attempts to "draw" people to attend, to get caught up in recognizing all the different holidays, celebrations, etc. These are not bad things - however, they should not be part of a stated worship service. I've known of people who judged how "good" a church was by how involved it was in different events/activities. Not so - we are to choose a church based on its commitment to the solid exposition of the Word, and the application thereof.

Jeni said...

My husband would agree with you 100%, and I'm not sure where I stand. We have discussions about it all the time, because it comes up at our church fairly regularly.

Lene said...

I know that I am very late at commenting on this post. I have been thinking a lot about it. I have also been reading my Bible to see if there was an answer. I cannot find where we are told to set aside Sunday for worshiping God. I found several places where it says to worship in Spirit and in Truth but nothing to indicate that we are worshiping sometimes and not other times.
I also found numerous scriptures about encouragement. There were scriptures telling us to encourage one another and scriptures talking about how someone had encouraged someone else when they met.
I have never been in a church service where I felt that a person was being placed above God. However, I think it is perfectly appropriate to encourage Mothers, Fathers, Military people, etc. that are part of the "family" and to have a time of thanksgiving to the creator for them.
I hope I am not stepping on anyone's toes. Overall, I am convinced that God directs our lives and the Holy Spirit will guide our hearts if we seek His will.

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