Acceptable Worship

Say the word “worship” these days and often you’ll unwittingly start another skirmish in an ongoing war between those who imagine worship to look like this


and those how prefer it to look like this

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The battles can be quite fierce, but as one who can find God in both sorts of settings, what is so interesting to me is how wildly off the mark the whole “worship war” thing really is.  Ultimately, worship has absolutely nothing to do with the architecture of a space, the number of pipes in one’s organ or the number of instruments in a praise band.  Appropriate worship, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us is, quite simply, giving thanks thanks to God.

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe…”

In my Episcopal tradition, this takes on life in our liturgy through the Eucharist, a transliteration of the Greek word for “grateful” or “thanksgiving.”  In the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper we pause to give thanks to God for the most precious gift of the Body and Blood of his Son, broken and poured out for our redemption on the cross.  With or without pipe organ.  With or without lead guitar.  Even with our without music, the service of Holy Eucharist lives up to the requirements of acceptable worship because, at its very core, it is a gathering of the people of God to give thanks.

Of course, as you might expect from this low churchman, Holy Eucharist isn’t the only acceptable form of worship.  There are plenty of ways to offer thanks to God for God’s “immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ.” (BCP, 101).  The Daily Office is full of opportunities to give thanks.  Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families, in setting aside time for prayers for ourselves and others gives us ample opportunity to give thanks, especially at the Close of Day.  Even for those who prefer not to pray from a book, the standard form of prayer taught in many evangelical circles weighs heavily on thanksgiving.  ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication encourages us to worship God through our prayers.

As you look around your world today, what opportunities are there to offer acceptable worship by giving thanks?

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