Rev. Donald W. Hackett, D.Min.

Centre Presbyterian Church New Park, PA

Faith Conversations with Children

What is worship for the people of God? Here is a definition to get us started.

    A gathering of people on Sunday morning focused on honoring God. 

We know you can worship at other times and places.  

Let’s trim the definition down. 

   A gathering of people focused on honoring and listening to God.

Worship can be done alone as well as a group.  How about this definition: 

   A person focused on honoring and listening to God.

There are so many ways to do this, aren’t there?

  • Ways: pray, sing, reading, studying, looking at the stars, taking a deep breath can be worship we are thinking about and talking to God.
  • Application:  Put up a post-it “Thank God” in a place you will see and be reminded  (explain picture on bulletin – it was a post-it was in my kids shower put there by my daughter Brynn).
  • Prayer: Thank you, God, we can worship you anywhere and anytime.  Help us to worship you with our whole hearts today and our whole lives all week long. In Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Background

We are looking at what it means to we walk with God.  Everyday we want to take up those things that will give us life and pull out of our backpack those thoughts and habits that weigh us down. Our passage today comes from the Old Testament book of Psalms. The Psalms are the hymnbook of the Bible and they gives us a way to sing as we journey with God. If we are focused on singing, praising, and thanking God, the weight in our backpacks does not seem heavy at all. Read with me the scripture printed in your bulletin.

Scripture Text     Psalm 96:1-4

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.

Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. 

For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.      For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. 

Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts.

Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.     Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.

Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth.    He will judge the world in righteousness  and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Introduction

What words come to mind when we say worship? Singing, praying, reading, preaching, silence, dancing, learning, laughing, baptism, communion, weddings, funerals, special occasions like Christmas Eve, Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, Pentecost. 

Definition

When we google the definition of worship we get words like: 

  • reverence
  • veneration 
  • adoration
  • devotion
  • praise 
  • thanksgiving
  • praying to 
  • glorifying
  • exalting
  • extolling 
  • homage
  • respect
  • honor
  • esteem
  • https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=def+of+worship&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

A dictionary says Worship is:

  1 : reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power also: an act of expressing such reverence. 

  2 : a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual.

Worship | Definition of Worship by Merriam-Webster

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worship Mar 17, 2019 – 

From this we get the sense we are looking beyond ourselves to something, someone much greater than you and me.

A really good Biblical definition comes from a Christian website called Verge On it this quote comes from worship leader Austin Stone: Biblical worship is the full-life response-head, heart, and hands- to who God is and what He has done.

https://www.vergenetwork.org/2014/05/07/worship-a-biblical-definition/

Austin gets that definition from a passage of scripture many know from Matthew 22:37: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  Worship is a whole person experience.  With that in mind, let us look at Psalm 96.

Sing to God

Our passage today gives us some pointers on how to worship.

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.

The first thing we read is that we are to sing to the Lord. Why would you and I sing to God?  One good reason is that God is worth it.   The Creator and Sustainer of everything is worthy of us and our whole planet singing to him.  When I looking for where the word “worship” came from I found: “Worship” is derived from the Old English word “woerthship.” So, when we worship God, we are proclaiming (or giving him back) his worth.” https://thinkingworship.com/2011/04/25/worship-theology-101-what’s-in-a-word/

We worship and sing to God because God is so worthy of it. 

  • When someone opens a door for us we say “thank you” because they deserve to be thanked.  
  • When someone does something really nice for us like making dinner for us or giving us a nice gift we say thank you and may even write them a thank you note.  
  • If someone rescues us from a fire and saves our lives, we would be forever grateful to them and show it in many different ways.  
  • When we study God and reflect on who He is and all that He has done and is doing…God made us; God provides for us moment to moment; God is working in us and the world to forgive, heal and restore us; and God promises to in the end to make all things new.
  • Our response to all this and more is worship…everyday and in lots of wonderful ways.

Another reason we sing is that we are told to so do.  Our voices are to join the voice of the wind, the birds, the trees, the rivers, the animals and all give praise to God. Why sing?  

  1. Singing involves the whole person.  It is hard to sing and not be fully engaged in it…brain, lungs, back, muscles, heart and soul have a role to play. So this passage give us permission to sing anyplace you like.  While you working, cleaning around the house, out on a walk you can sing and know all creation is joining you.  What a blast!  I like to put worship music on when I am working in the kitchen and let my spirit soar.  You can even wear headphone while you work in the yard.  Get creative! God made your voice so let him hear it!
  1. Singing focuses you and me on the one thing. It is hard to sing and do lots of others things.  When you sing, it takes center stage. When we sing to God, God is the focus and we are given life whenever we connect with God. There are so many distractions on television, radio and the internet.  Listening and singing music improves your breathing, posture and reduces muscle tension. Singing is thought to help sustain a healthy immune system. We are created to sing and praise. Tune into channels, stations, podcast and websites that help you worship.  I love to go to Youtube and bring up different groups singing hymns and worship songs.  I love the variety of ways to sing and worship God. 
  1. Singing connect us together. Studies have shown that when we sing together, social bonds are forged, sense of well being improves, and we grow in our sense that we belong in community.  Singing connects us in deep physical, emotional, social and spiritual ways.  So let’s take a step forward today in our worship.  If you have not enjoyed singing, start trying on your own.  Come to choir practice and start to learn how to sing, read music, and enjoy this wonderful way of worship.https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/science_of_singing

Sing to Others

Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. 

Praising God is a daily way of helping others know about God. When we are singing alone or in a group, others can hear and learn about God.  It is one thing to talk about God.  It is a whole other thing to sing about God.  That is why we love musicals!  In the musical “Crazy for You” when the lead character Bobby Child expresses his love for Polly Baker he doesn’t just say it, he sings it. The song “You Can’t Take that Away from Me” has the lyrics:

The way you wear your hat

The way you sip your tea

The memory of all that

No, no, they can’t take that away from me

The way your smile just beams

The way you sing off key

The way you haunt my dreams

No, no, they can’t take that away from me

You could read that, but to really communicate his love Bobby has to sing it.

There is something wonderful about when we sing together.  Choir concerts, Messiah Sing-A-Longs, and even Flash mobs that sing in the malls all can have a way of proclaim the wonder and beauty of God.  Praising and singing connect us to God.  Sometimes we are looking to honor God.  Other times we are surprised to discover God was there all along reaching out to us.  Praise, worship, and singing have great power for good.  They are another way to connect with the living God.

How appropriate then that we stand and sing the first and third verses of Hymn #17, O Worship the King, All Glorious Above.

1 O worship the King all-glorious above,

O gratefully sing his power and his love:

our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,

pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.

3 Your bountiful care, what tongue can recite?

It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;

it streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,

and sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.