I have been working like crazy lately to get a paper done for a course I finished last month. It is late but I almost have it done. It is about worship and I have been reading a lot of books on the subject. One of my favourites that I would like to reread when I can actually dwell in it is The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God’s Call to Justice by Mark Labberton.
It is a book that totally surprised me with where it went.
I already had this idea of how worship can be viewed as dangerous but this book stunned me. Worship, rightly practiced, is recognition of the one we are worshiping. Labberton quotes one of my favourite authors Annie Dillard who says,
On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside the catacombs sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, making up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ hats and straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offence, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return. (Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters (NY: HarperCollins, 1982) p. 40.)
We sing, ‘all hail the power of Jesus name let angels prostrate fall.’ Why not us? Why aren’t we bowing to the ground in humility? Why do we have the nerve to invite God to join us (one of my favourite sacrilegious comments that people begin worship with)? Labberton adds later, “The church in the safest nation in the world so often clings to its obsession with safety rather than risks investing in the cause of Christ in the World.”
Worship fully practiced will changes us. “To worship is to change. If worship does not propell us into greater obedience it has not been worship.” (Richard Foster) Worshiping God will complicate our lives. Whether in the whirlwind or in the still small voice (1 Kings 19) meeting God is no small incident. God is engaged in the recreation of all things in the image of Jesus Christ including you and I (Col. 1: 13 – 20). If we can leave a time of worship unchanged then we have actively defied the will of God in worship. It would have been better had we not been there.