July 17, 2021
Tennessee Valley District
David establishes worship
1 Chronicles 16:4-13 (CEB)
4 David appointed some of the Levites to serve before the Lord’s chest in order to remember, to give thanks, and to praise the Lord, Israel’s God: 5 Asaph was the leader, and Zechariah his assistant; also Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-edom, and Jeiel with harps and lyres; Asaph sounding the cymbals; 6 and the priests Benaiah and Jahaziel blowing trumpets regularly before the chest containing God’s covenant. 7 On the same day, for the first time, David ordered Asaph and his relatives to give thanks to the Lord.
David’s song of praise
8 Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name;
make his deeds known to all people!
9 Sing to God, sing praises to him;
dwell on all his wondrous works!
10 Give praise to God’s holy name!
Let the hearts of all those seeking the Lord rejoice!
11 Pursue the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always!
12 Remember the wondrous works he has done,
all his marvelous works,
and the justice he declared—
13 you who are the offspring of Israel, his servant,
and the children of Jacob, his chosen ones.
As the pastor of a church, I consider myself a worship nerd. At one point, I might have claimed the title worship expert, although age and wisdom have taught me the error of that thought. This is because I have come to realize that each of us finds communion with God in different ways. Some find this communion through quiet liturgy, and others while the band plays quite loudly. Some are drawn to the bells and smells, while others feel the divine presence in the smell of pines and running water.
What we must acknowledge is that it is not the style that comprises a worship service in corporate worship settings; it is the heart of the worshipper. We need not focus on whether a song is written in 1898 or 2020 to be worshipful. The challenge there is how to divert our inner voice from “I really don’t like this tune” to “Here is my gift Lord. Just for you”.
I wonder what it must have been like before worship became so structured and there became an ‘order’ that meant, “This is the way we have always done it.” What was it like before David wrote his songs of praise and laments; before there was a sacrificial altar in a Temple structure; or even before the Scriptures were codified, printed, and bound?
We aren’t sure how it looked before these things but can see the times of transition. On the day that the Temple was open, when the Ark of the Covenant was being brought into its resting place, there was a grand parade. The shofars were blown, the priests in their finest marched, and David danced with reckless abandon. (2 Samuel 6:13)
One of the things I miss about worship is my own personal engagement. It’s very difficult to engage your heart when as a pastor you are thinking about the next prayer; why the organist seems to be off his or her game today; bumping into a person who had harsh words for you in the hallway before services; or knowing that I will eventually find out why another individual has a sour look today.
As a pastor, I want to experience an attitude of worship that raises my altitude toward the One worshipped. I would love to have the experience of reckless abandonment of worshipping God, not caring if someone disapproved. I mean, what would it be like to be in a place full of people but feel alone, one-on-one with my God?
Until such a time, I will continue my journey with God and God’s people knowing that my Lord knows my struggle. Perhaps someone will feel Sunday morning that they have reached that place because of the planning, effort, and structure that happened the week before. If that one person got a little closer to God because of what was provided through these things perhaps God will hear their praise and we will all be blessed to be one degree closer to God.
Gracious God, may we work to create sacred spaces. Help us also to be able to experience such a place that we might worship you in spirit and in truth. Amen.