Posted on Tue, Jan 29, 2019
Pastor Bob Norton
Some years ago my friend Don and his wife were invited to hear the great tenor Luciano Pavarotti. They were
told the performance would likely be his last appearance on the west coast,band so they gratefully accepted the
outrageously expensive tickets for two of the best seats in the house. They reflected on the occasion, “The
concert exceeded our expectations. We were stunned by the master’s music. In aria after aria he demonstrated remarkable talent – talent, surely, that set him apart from the thousands who had come to hear him. But that set apartness was revealed in his generous giving; his uniqueness was shown in a gracious offering of himself.
He held nothing back, it seemed. Every note was filled with boundless passion and glorious beauty. “We had to respond: we jumped to our feet and clapped, hooted, and whistled. We did not stop, not for a long time. Wave
after wave of grateful applause was sent up to the platform, calling forth encore after encore.” Don said, “In the midst of this mayhem of gratitude, when my hands were beginning to ache from the pounding, I thought to myself, This is deeply satisfying, a profound joy. It felt right to offer praise in response to such excellence, nd this sense of appropriateness created a congruence in which my little world, at least for the moment, seemed erfectly ordered.” In a similar way, God’s gracious self-giving in Jesus Christ calls for the response of faith, and faith’s first expression will be the applause of prai e. Worship – the word comes from middle English, meaning to ascribe worth – is both an instinctive response and an inexhaustible source of joy. Not only does worship appen in response to joy, joy happens as a result of worship; joy brings forth praise, and praise brings forth a new dimension in joy. Don and his wife applauded Pavarotti out of joyous gratitude, but the applause itself swept them into more joy. Their exuberant ovation created its own happiness. Don went deeper in his reflection, “It felt good to praise Pavarotti because it was good. Not only does excellence deserve to be recognized and appreciated, human beings have a basic need to acknowledge it. God has created us for worship, for ascribing worth; to applaud glory is an essential part of our nature. We instinctively responded to the musical glory of Pavarotti because we have been made to praise the greater Glory behind it.” The fountainhead of all other
manifestations of glory in creation is the Holy One, the Light at the center, the Creator and Redeemer and Sustainer of our lives. We have been created to live for the praise of this God. Our chief end, in the words of the Shorter Catechism, is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” The need for worship has been built within the nature of our humanity. Even as cars need gasoline to run, and sailboats need wind to sail, and hawks need thermals to soar, and fish need water to swim – even so, we need worship to live. We must worship; we will worship. But not everyone worships God. This is because we have the freedom to substitute any sort of false god for the true God. G. K. Chesterton said that when we “cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing, we worship anything.” And so in the place of God, who alone deserves complete devotion, we erect idols to receive our praise and adoration. No false go , however, can supply the deepest delights of worship. We may aim adoration in a variety of directions, but the greatest joy comes from those who worship God. With the Light of Glory at the center, the lesser lights of glory shine brighter; with God the object of worship, life becomes what the Creator meant it to be. So Karl Barth described worship as “the most urgent, the most glorious action that can take place in human life.” Now is the time to learn to worship, to turn our hearts to the living God. Awe. Wonder. Joy. He gives His gifts to us. Come and give and you will receive! Worship His majesty!
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