Wednesday, May 16, 2012

a simple, stripped-down worship

When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever."
2 Chronicles 7:3

This was quite the worship experience. It is the sort of moment in scripture that I wish I could have seen "live"! The dedication of the temple kicked off a weeklong celebration. Jerusalem was filled with travelers. The temple and its courts were packed with jubilant Israelites. God was being worshiped in a big way.

The joy of the LORD filled the hearts of the people just as the glory of the LORD filled His temple. Again, the thick cloud of God's presence was so overwhelming that the priests could not minister in the temple for a time. God's fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifices. And His glory filled the temple mount. The result was this reverent worship.

There was a worship response worth thinking about as it is displayed here in this text. It was physical. The people fell to the ground in humble contrition, bowing low after God has so visibly demonstrated His power and His glory. And they worshiped the Lord in this way. They were filled with thankfulness and expressed it to God. This was a thanksgiving at its most essential. They were just thankful to God for His presence among them. And their worship involved a compact expression of theological creed. They acknowledged God's goodness and His faithful covenant love for them.

I like seeing the wonder and the fresh simplicity of this moment of "stripped down" worship. We humans tend to complicate worship. We have made it about an ornate setting. We have to be dressed up, or for some, completely casual and barefoot. It must be liturgical (or definitely not!). It must come with a musical preference. But none of that matters in a moment when God's glory invades our lives. Instead, worship is about bearing witness to the glory of God, responding humbly, worshiping, and in thankfulness, declaring the truth about God. How I wish the church today would keep this unadorned, simple worship at heart!

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