2nd June 2013

What is Worship? 

“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’”
Luke 22:19-20 (NIV UK) 

Christians around the world participate in an act of worship known by several names, including the Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, Communion, and even New Testament Passover. Whatever it may be called, the eating of bread and drinking of wine is done in remembrance of Jesus as he commanded. 

As we take part it helps to understand what Jesus meant in his command “in remembrance.” The Greek word used here is anamnesis, a word of rich liturgical significance. It doesn’t refer merely to recalling a past event. It points to remembering in such a way that we understand our actual participation in that past event. Our own personal past, present and future are fully enmeshed in the personal experience of Jesus Christ in his life, death, resurrection and ascension. Jesus Christ became human for our sake, in our place and on our behalf. As our Creator and our Redeemer, he took up our cause in his own being by becoming human for us. 

Authentic worship, therefore, does not originate with us, but rather with Jesus in whom every human being exists and has meaning. Therefore our emphasis in worship is not upon ourselves, but upon Christ’s action on our behalf. Our worship of God is authentic worship only because Jesus himself, as the representative human being, the perfect human being, in our place and on our behalf, worships God for us and in us. 

Fourth century Athanasius taught that there is a two-way movement in Jesus Christ. On the one hand, Jesus is God’s saving action toward us. He is the act of God the Father reaching down to deal with our sin and guilt and shame and emptiness. Jesus ministers the things of God to all humanity.  And on the other hand, Jesus is Man representing all humanity, responding perfectly to God on behalf of every human being. He is not only God coming to man. He is man going to God, on our behalf and in our place. Jesus is our perfect and permanent mediator and high priest. He is God acting for humanity, and he is the perfect human being responding to God on our behalf. He offers to God on our behalf the perfect and complete response of everything God wants and expects of humanity. 

As the perfect human being representing everyone, Jesus answers the Father not with rebellion, not with indifference, not with coldness or apathy, but with zeal and passion and obedience and sincere submission and true adoration. He is human for us, standing in for us, representing all humanity as he lives in true fellowship with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. 

In other words, worship is really something we do with our lives as we live in Christ. It happens in every moment as we reflect Jesus Christ who lives within us. It happens when we read a story to our children, when we hug our parents, when we show kindness to another person. And it happens whenever we eat and drink the Lord’s Supper. All this is participating in the very life of the Trinity and feeling the joy and love shared by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Prayer
Holy Father, even in worship we have to rely on you, because our worship is flawed and incomplete. We praise you, Father, through your Son, and we acknowledge every time we commemorate his death, our debt to you. Through and in Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen 

Study by Joseph Tkach

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 joeandtammyAbout the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA.

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