“Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness”
(1 Chronicles 16:29)
Archbishop William Temple, writing in his Readings from St John’s Gospel, shared some of his insights on worship. The headings are his.
- “Worship is the submission of all nature to God.” We must journey with Him to the point where we bring everything in and about us into submission to God’s authority and love. Our hopes and fears, our health and well-being, our successes and failures, our world and our families, our beliefs and doubts – everything. Obedience and trust embrace each other.
- Worship is “the quickening of conscience by His holiness.” As we contemplate and worship Almighty God the comparison between His pure, light-filled ‘otherness’ and our shadowy and compromised reality will become apparent. We acknowledge it before Him in confession and a new focus.
- Worship is “the nourishment of mind with His truth.” His truth is revealed to us in and through His creation, His word in Scripture, His Living Word Jesus Christ and by His Holy Spirit who witnesses to our spirits and leads us into all truth. Worship feeds our minds with a truth that also reveals the untruths that we have received from the world.
- Worship is “the purifying of the imagination by His beauty.” Our minds receive, create and carry all sorts of images within them which are fed by our memories and the emotions that they conjure up. The beauty of God is cleansing, compelling and transforming – lifting the spirit away from the things of the world and into the sacred sanctity of wonder, love and praise – leading to light-filled silence and breathless awe.
- Worship is “the opening of the heart to His love.” The love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given to us. (Romans 5:5) The world makes our hearts calloused and hardened through the fear of rejection and pain. Step by step we must learn to trust and open them to His love – the unconditional fullness of which is revealed in the cross and resurrection.
- Worship is “the surrender of will to His purpose.” So we begin to understand more fully the beauty and meaning of the prayer that Jesus taught us – “Hallowed be Your Name, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as in heaven” – and starting with me. It is the only way of Life.
We need times of quiet reflection and worship – where we look at God and allow Him to look at us with His eyes of love.
Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name (Psalm 103:1)