The psalmist sings, ‘Oh come, let us worship the Lord. Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving!’ down through the ages God’s people have joined each other to publicly sing praises to God, thank Him for His blessings, listen once more of His great love for mankind and be restored one more through His Word and Sacrament. Several recent studies indicate that fewer and fewer Christians are assembling together for public worship. This is also true in the Lutheran Church. Why? One reason is that our view of worship is misguided.
Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher and Lutheran theologian, suggested that many church members view worship from the wrong perspective. He describes how many go to church, settle in a pew, look at the bulletin and wait for something to happen. It is hardly different from going to a movie, play or concert. There we know the director will direct the play, an actor or actors will be the main characters and the audience will watch. ‘Where is the actor?’ we ask in church. ‘There he is, the pastor’, who is up on the stage (chancel) acting ‘away’. God, of course, especially the Holy Spirit, we believe is the director because He guides and leads the actor to do what he is supposed to do. The congregation must then be the audience to respond with approval or disapproval, applause or boos, amens or silence, depending on how we have been moved that day. Then, we go home and wait for the ‘show’ next Sunday morning.
Soren Kierkegaard argues otherwise. He maintains that when we go for worship, the pastor is the director who directs the worship. The people in the congregation are the actors and God is the audience! When we take God’s place in the church (as we are so prone to do) then we invert worship of god to worship of self and thus soon become disenchanted with what happens on Sunday morning. As a consequence, we do not participate or return.
When you worship, what is your view? Is the pastor the actor or the director? Are you the audience or the actor? Is God the director or the audience? ‘Oh come, let us worship the Lord’ the psalmist sings. When God is rightly viewed as the center, the object of our worship because of His love for us through Christ Jesus, there worship is exciting, joyous, and all participate with mouths, minds and hearts. The result is we leave refreshed and renewed and ready for service. How is it with you?