Worship, Worth-ship, & Sleeping Committees

Got to share one of my favorite Wright quotes today as a reflection at First UMC Burlington. It’s from his (underrated) book, For All God’s Worth: True Worship & the Calling of the ChurchAnd it has to do with the definition of worship, which was relevant because First UMC’s mission is to be a worshiping community, walking in the way of Jesus, believing in place.

Check it out and let me know if it resonates:

The word ‘worship’ means, literally, ‘worth-ship’: to accord worth, true value, to something, to recognize and respect it for the true worth it has. And that sets us on a trail that leads us from the squirrel in the garden, the steak in the oven, the singing in the choir, and the squeeze of the hand, all the way to the one who created all of them in the first place…I want to suggest to you that our ordinary experiences of beauty are given to us to provide a clue, a starting-point, a signpost, from which we move on to recognize, to glimpse, to be overwhelmed by, to adore, and so to worship, not just the majesty, but the beauty of God himself…

Worship will never end; whether there be buildings, they will crumble; whether there be committees, they will fall asleep; whether there be budgets, they will add up to nothing. For we build for the present age, we discuss for the present age, and we pay for the present age; but when the age to come is here, the present age will be done away. For now we see the beauty of God through a glass, darkly, but then face to face; now we appreciate only part, but then we shall affirm and appreciate God, even as the living God has affirmed and appreciated us. So now our tasks are worship, mission and management, these three; but the greatest of these is worship.

And do you see why it’s so easy to create that pastiche of 1 Corinthians 13, substituting ‘worship’ for ‘love’? Worship is nothing more nor less than love on its knees before the Beloved; just as mission is love on its feet to serve the Beloved – and just as the Eucharist, as the climax of worship, is love embracing the Beloved and so being strengthened for service.

About Zach Hoag

Zach J. Hoag is a writer and missional minister from notoriously non-religious New England. He blogs here at Patheos and HuffPost Religion. His book, Nothing but the Blood: The Gospel According to Dexter, released in 2012. Most importantly he binge-watches TV dramas and plays in the snow with his family.

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  • MarkADemers

    Wright’s description is awesome in lots of ways … and maybe just a
    bit too awesome for me.  It does resonate; but I do like the Greek
    “proskuneo” in that it has a more down-to-earth tone to it.  Maybe I’m
    splitting hairs.  And truth be told, worship can be experienced in both
    the “awesome” and the “ordinary”.  Certainly what Wright lists as
    “ordinary experiences” can be stepping stones to a greater and deeper
    experience.  But they also are infinitely valuable in and of
    themselves.  Yuh … I’m splitting hairs.  Thanks so much for sharing the quote this morning.  If time permitted, we could work this through some more.

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