Scripture – Elements of Worship Series (Part 9)

In previous articles I have pointed out that worship is about communication.  It is communication specifically taking place in four directions, which I described as:  God to Us, Us to God, Others to Us, and Us to Others.  For a full understanding of this idea, please visit the previous post:  Worship in Four Directions.

For this article, I wish to discuss the most important of these four communication channels.  This one is the most important because without it, the others just don’t matter!  The most important channel of communication is God to Us.  Francis Schaeffer reminded us of this in his book, “He is There and He is Not Silent.”  God’s communication to us is the foundation of worship and the key to our response to Him.

Of course, what I am referring to is nothing less than God’s word.  God has spoken, and continues to speak, into the lives of His people and into His creation.  However, modern worship often leaves little room for this most basic and fundamental need.

Martin Luther noted four different ways in which God’s word comes toward us.  I have written a full chapter on this in my book, Essays on Martin Luther’s Theology of Music.  For a full discussion, please refer to that book.  For now, these four can be summarized in this way:

  1. The SPOKEN word. This is demonstrated in such statements as, “In the beginning God said…”  In His spoken word, God creates reality.
  2. The WRITTEN word. This is our Bible, and the permanent record of God’s revelation of Himself.
  3. The LOGOS. Referring to Jesus Christ as the Word become flesh.
  4. The PREACHED word. This is the word that comes through teachers and preachers, but is a mediated word (indirect).

In modern worship, we are hard pressed to hear from God through His word.  Granted, we hear a lot of preaching, so I am not suggesting that pastors are ignoring their duty.  Although, I would suggest that the movement away from expository preaching toward topical sermons and therapeutic considerations have diminished the effectiveness of the mediated word.  What I really think has changed is the direct communication of the word in worship.

Specifically, what seems to be missing is the reading of Scripture as more than a passing thought or setup for the pastor’s sermon.  If the written word is the permanent and enduring communication of God to His people, how can the people really know it if they do not hear it?  And how can they hear it if we do not plan for it in our services.

I realize that Scripture reading must be an individual and daily undertaking by each believer, and by each family.  However, we must admit that the practice of daily reading continues to diminish in modern Christian experience.  This is unfortunate and cannot be overcome by adding more reading to the public worship service, however, the communal experience of Scripture reading can be a vital link to a resurgence of the power of the Bible and its teachings in the life of believers and in the lives of their churches.

My point here is simple:  If you want to hear from God in your services, read the Bible and listen for His voice there.  Songs are wonderful, and sermons are nice, but to hear directly from Him increase the use of Scripture reading in your services.

Posted on April 13, 2015, in Christian Worldview, Content of Worship, Corporate Worship, Leadership, theology, Worship Leader and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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