so what is worship?
In ancient times worship was offered to God with sacrifice that atoned for sin and allowed the worshipper to have fellowship with God. The underlying principle has not changed but God has provided the sacrifice in Jesus and opened a much more real and permanent way to fellowship with Himself. The worshipper no longer presents a material offering on an altar through a priest but rather presents himself in spiritual worship (Rom.12.1). Graham Kendrick (1) wrote "Worship is the response to a relationship. Within the circle of a truly loving family you will always find an increasing flow of thanks and praise and worship, as the worth of each member is affirmed by both words and deeds" (The ancient meaning of 'worship' was 'worthship'. How do we value our time with God.
Long ago European Christians all worshipped in the same way and in the same language. Reform and revival changed that and there was a big difference in 17th and 18th Centuries between 'high' Anglicans and the simple worship of the 'Friends' or 'Quakers'. The 19th and 20th Centuries brought further diversity. Christians worshipped God in the manner that they believed was most fitting to their particular beliefs. But criticism of others does not make our own worship more spiritual. We need to respect the way our Christian brethren approach the one Father. Human parents find that their children approach them in different ways. Some Christians would never rub shoulders in a place of worship with those who differ from them doctrinally even although we read the same Bible and sing the same hymns. What if we spend eternity with them? What is really important is that we are aware that we are standing, sitting or kneeling in the presence of Almighty God ‑ our Father in Heaven. What does He think about the divergences? He wants us ‑ "warts and all". There are outward blemishes for which He will have a speedy remedy. The treatment for the inner life is more radical.
We worship Him because He delights in our joining hearts and voices before Him. May He guide us in our worship, in preparation, participation and in reflecting His glory to others.
One dear saint of God used to remind us that we have an appointment with the Lord. Another suggested that an empty chair might remind of One who is present. May He forgive our forgetfulness of Him and challenge us to greater sensitivity to His will and a closer walk with Him. There is solidarity and strength in doing things together. We come to Him as a family and our Father never turns us away.
(1) Graham Kendrick ‑ 'Worship' p 75 (Kingsway Publications 1995)