We are entering the season of Advent (appearing) which is the four weeks before Christmas day. It begins on the last Sunday of November and is a time to prepare our hearts to worship Christ, the Lord, who is the promised messiah. No longer a baby in the manger, but now is the risen Lord. Jesus has done the work of salvation on our behalf, and as a result, we are free from the power of sin, which is eternal death. The first Advent has passed, now we wait for the second Advent when our saviour Jesus returns, and can be a valuable so us to think upon such things. Our faith in Christ is hallmarked by worship. So, though this Advent, I share a little of what worship means and what it is. Whether you are still shielding at home or can attend a Church service, I encourage you to continue in daily worship this Advent, Christmas and beyond.
Worship Involves Sacrifice
In New Testament times, worship consisted initially of sacrifice (of animals). However, the focus of worship for Christians today is the sacrifice of praise. It is a self-sacrifice in honour and adoration of Christ (Mark 8:34-36). Worship is the total response of our gratitude toward the grace of God that comes to us in the work of Jesus Christ (see Romans 12:1-2). It is no longer related to the temple notion of animal sacrifice, but rather, in Christ the whole Church has become a temple and a priesthood inhabited by the Holy Spirit or presence of God (see 1 Cor. 6:19; Eph. 2:19-22; and 1 Pet. 2:9).
2. Worship Is Spiritual
For many Churches, worship may involve some rituals. However, our worship from a New Testament perspective, is essentially spiritual (see 1 Pet. 2:5; Rom. 12:2). Jesus instructed the women at the well, to worship God in spirit and in truth. It was an internal attitude of heart, rather than a practice of external rituals. This understanding is also found in Isaiah 1:11-20 and Psalm 51:15-17.
3. However, Worship Did Include Specific Practices
Some of the rites in the New Testament include baptism (Matt. 28:19), communion (1 Cor. 11:23-34), laying on of hands (Acts 6:6; Acts 8:17; 13:1-3), foot washing (John 13:5-17), lifting up hands in prayer and worship (Luke 24:50; 1 Tim. 2:8; see Psalm 134:1-2 and Psalm 143:6), the reading of Scriptures (1 Tim. 4:13), and contributions for ministry to those in need (1 Cor. 16:2). Because we are not given explicit instruction on how to practice these rituals, many variations of their practices emerged in the early churches. Of course, the early Church patterned much of its worship service after that of the Jewish synagogue service. Worship services at first were on the Sabbath (Saturday). An edit was given y the Roman Church in the middle of the first century to order Christians to gather regularly on the first day of the week on a Sunday. At first, however, followers of Jesus in Jerusalem gathered daily in the Temple for prayers on the Sabbath-Saturday (Acts 3:46). (see 1 Cor. 16:2; Acts 20:7; Rev. 1:10)
4. Worship Was Filled with Charismatic Praise
The offering of enthusiastic praise and prayer under the influence of the Holy Spirit was characteristic of the early Church’s worship. This was demonstrated through speech (1 Cor. 14:19) and tongues or jubilant speech (1 Cor. 14:2, 6 ff.). Each person was given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7) and to build up the body of Christ to maturity (Eph. 4:11-15).
5. Worship Was Educational
The early Christians were a teaching community giving instruction in their time of worship (see 1 Cor. 12:8; 14:26; Eph. 4:11; 1 Tim. 3:2; 4:13; 5:17).
6. Worship Was giving thanks- rejoicing
The early Christians were a happy bunch. The early Christian community was conscious of the need to give thanks to God and to rejoice in the Lord always. (Eph. 5:19-20; Col. 3:17).
7. Worship Was giving thanks- rejoicing
The Greek word, koinonia, means “sharing” or “participation” and is seen as the kind of giving in the fellowship that builds up the family of Christ (Acts 2:42-47). This is the focus of 1 Corinthians 12:1-7-each person was expected to come and share in the event of worship rather than simply listen to one person.
8. Worship Was Corporate
There was also a corporateness in worship in every sense (1 Cor. 12:12-26). The Church was consciously a body or a fellowship of persons who saw themselves as inextricably bound together as brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to find out community one that upholds the Word of God and welcomes you into its midst.
9. Worship Included Music
The early Christians lifted their voices in praise to God. The New Testament frequently mentions the corporate singing which took place in their midst and also indicates some of their hymns and spiritual songs, can we do any less? (e.g., Phil. 2:6-11; Eph. 5:19-20; Rev. 4:8-11; 5:9-13).
10. Worship Included Singing and Song writing
There are several hymns or spiritual songs in the New Testament literature. Among many others, here are examples of Christian spiritual songs: Eph. 5:14 (three lines, first two rhyme in Greek, and the last is a promise), 1 Tim. 3:16, Phil. 2:6-11, Col. 1:15-20, Heb. 1:3. There are also the Nativity hymns in Luke: the Magnificat (1:46-55), the Benedictus (1:68-79), and Nunc Dimittis (2:29-32). Besides these, there are several well-known Christian hymns that date from roughly the early second century AD currently known as the Odes of Solomon, a collection of some 42 spiritual songs. One can see in all these songs both praise and testimony to the greatness of God’s activity in His Son in Jesus the Christ.
The words of the hymns should relate to the person and work of Jesus the Christ. They sometimes mention His pre-existence or how He became a man and accomplished redemption (salvation) for the world through His suffering and death. The dominant motif in most New Testament hymns is that Christ is victorious over all our enemies and is rightly worshiped as the image of God Who is over all.
The above examples show us how the Worship Was Corporate lived out its life in worship of God. Worship, of course, was not a simple act done occasionally, but rather a way of life that involved one’s complete dedication to honour Christ and give our complete lives to serve Him. Worship cannot be reduced to a just a few songs, a Scripture reading, a sermon, and a closing prayer. Looking at the original language in which the Bible was written, we find that Worship is in fact a whole life of submission to the call of God that comes to us in the proclamation of good news. It is my hope this advent and Christmas that your worship be sincere and heartfelt bring you close to the One who loves you the most- Father, Son and Holy Spirit – One God, now and forever.