Friday, September 19, 2014

What Sunday Worship is REALLY all About

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. (Isaiah 6.1-4)

The majesty which Isaiah witnessed when he saw God being worshipped in Heaven was also expressed in the Temple which God commanded Moses to construct for His People to worship Him on Earth. For a better description of how Moses was commanded to construct the Temple, read Exodus chapters 25-28 all of which express the majesty of God.

This SAME majesty is expressed in Orthodox Christian worship. Golden candlesticks, incense, Altars, Thrones, Vestments, precious metals and stone are all integrated into Orthodox Christian worship for a reason – to prepare us for being in Heaven.

Many Protestant Churches today express quite a different atmosphere to their worship. Rather than the majesty of heaven, many Church services Sunday mornings “feel” more like a night club. Rather than bowing and reverencing the Altar of God, many Church services Sunday mornings lift up the human passions rather than the mantle of God. In fact many Christians validate this by using the expression “It felt awesome today in Church!” or “I get so lifted up when I go to Church!”

On the contrary Saint Paul and Saint John the Theologian had quite the different reaction to seeing God being worshipped in heaven, much the same as Moses and Isaiah.

And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. (Revelation 1.17)

And I know such a man -- whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows --how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (2 Corinthians 12.3-4)

The Orthodox Church has a centuries-long witness in the lives of countless holy men and women who have had visions of God, ALL OF WHOM express similar stories as we find the Holy Scriptures. So, if we are preparing as Christians to worship God in Heaven for all eternity, why would we not express that same majesty in our Earthly worship? Of course as Orthodox Christians, we do, are at least we should.

The trend in mega-Churches toward the night club atmosphere is obviously attractive to many in today’ entertainment culture, but does it REALLY prepare believers for what is coming for all eternity? If God taught that the way to salvation was in taking up our cross and denying ourselves, it would seem that Sunday worship would focus, not on what makes us FEEL good, but the awesome majesty of being in God’s presence. Would a believer, if they were in the presence of God, REALLY worry more about feeling good than bowing in reverence at the Altar of God?

When you come to Church on Sunday, please consider the REAL reason you are worshipping God. If you are focused more on how you “feel” rather than being in His Presence and glory, you may not be preparing yourself and your family for what is coming in Heaven. Don’t you want to be prepared?

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