Lutheran worship is such a blessing. People come into God's House and have what seems to be the unthinkable happen - God comes to His people and serves them!
God comes to His people in His Word of forgiveness. Guilty consciences are comforted and relieved as God speaks His Word of forgiveness. You can see the relief on some of the faces. How good to know that God forgives and then forgets our sins and transgressions. His Word promises that God remembers our sins no more.
God comes to His people in the bread and wine of the Holy Supper. Drawing near to Christ, at His invitation, hungry worshipers receive the true Body and Blood of the Lord. Here is assurance that sins are forgiven. Here is assurance that heaven's gates stand wide open for those who belong to the Lord.
In fact, wherever God's Word and Sacraments are found, God is there. That makes worship a unique and meaningful experience.
In some churches, worship is seen as what we do for God. The service is ours. The work is ours. God is just an innocent bystander, soaking up all of our wonderfulness.
While I am glad that in worship God gives me the opportunity to respond to His service to me by letting me offer my praises in the hymns, my petitions and requests in the prayers, and my gifts to enable ministry to continue to happen, I don't need a God who needs me to gush all over Him. I want and need a God who assures me that He holds nothing against me...who strengthens and nourishes my faith so that I am able to call on Him in times of temptation and testing...who gives me everything I need for this life as I watch and prepare for the life to come.
Dr. David W. Manner is a Baptist pastor who has been deeply involved in worship and music ministry. Dr. Manner has offered a cautionary word about worship in a blog post that I found very interesting. It was called "15 Worship Decisions We'll Regret."
Here are some of the concerns he listed that cause me some worry:
Elevating music above Scripture, prayer and the Lord's Supper.
Trying to recreate worship with each new generation.
Ignoring the Christian calendar and adopting the Hallmark Calendar.
Worshiping like inspiration stopped with the hymnal.
Worshiping like inspiration started with modern worship songs.
Allowing songs about God to supersede the Word of God.
When worship becomes all about "me, myself, and I" instead of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then there is no true worship. Trendy does not trump traditional.
May God save us from ourselves so that we might really receive the gifts of grace that we need and that He wants to give to us in worship. Then, we can shout with all the lung power we can muster, "PRAISE THE LORD!"