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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Worship: For the Individual or Corporate?

I was involved in a conversation today at work with a few co-workers. The issue was Church and worship. While I did not actually say too much during the conversation, I certainly did a lot of listening.

A comment was made that worship is an individual experience between God and the individual; when we go to church, we are there as a body, but whether the person next to me is raising her hands or quietly sitting does not matter; what matters is what is going on between me and God.

While I agree to a certain degree with the comments made above, I think it misses the real heart of genuine worship. Certainly the focus of our worship during a church service should be God. I believe this is best demonstrated via the liturgy, prayer and the eucharist. God is the center of each of these practices during worship service. However, when these things are performed, they are performed on two levels. The first is an individual level. Certainly in worship individuals are praying to God, perhpas for forgiveness of sins, or extending a prayer for someone in need, etc. But via the liturgy, the body prays collectively. Moreover, the liturgy itself is a corporate form of worship where everyone particpates in unison, as a body.

Therefore, the second level of worship is certainly corporate. We worship together as the body of Christ. We all participate together in the body and blood of Christ via the eucharist (the Lord's Table). While in one sense we worship at church service on an individual level, this I beleive is not the essential form or level of worship. The collective corporate worship of the body of Christ is the essential form or level, if you will, of worship. This is so because if worship on an individual level is the essential form of worship, then there really is no need for us to gather together for church service at all. There is no reason for me to participate in a church worship service if the essential form of my worship is individuality of worship; strictly between God and myself.

The writer of Hebrews has made this quite clear by declaring, "never forsake the gathering of the saints." The gathering of the saints to worship is the essential form of worship because this is where the body of Christ is uniting itself visibly to collectively declare that Christ is Lord and worthy of our worship. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if you might be interested in my Bible Reading Notes, covering the whole of Scripture.
They can be found at
www.christinallthescriptures.blogspot.com
www.theologyofgcberkouwer.blogspot.com
http://chascameron.spaces.live.com
Best Wishes.

1:39 PM, November 15, 2006  
Blogger Jeremiah Kier Cowart said...

Good thoughts Todd. I'm sure you'll develop them more as you continue in your liturgical reading. I've often found it helpful to keep in mind the distinction between liturgy being personal but not private. Worship is personal, absolutely no doubt about it. But, it seems to be simultaneously public as well. It walks this tightrope and it tense like so many other things in Christian life. It is personal but not private. Personal, yet the 'public worship of the Church' is how liturgy could be defined. This way, you get to keep the two dimensions of worship, the communal and solitary.

1:25 PM, November 29, 2006  

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