Saturday, November 3, 2012

Habit-forming worship

When human beings worship God the creator, articulating their praise and adoration because of who he is and what he's done, they are, whether or not they realize it, summing up the praises and adoration of the whole creation. That is another reason why the physical expression of worship, in liturgy and especially in the sacraments, remains important. We shouldn't expect to worship as disembodied souls who happen to be temporarily resident in these strange things called physical bodies, and then to be able to do our job as God's royal priesthood, picking up creation's praises and presenting them before God's throne. Remember: that is what we are called to do and to be. Don't be surprised if the body language of worshippers expresses something of what is being said and done. No doubt this, too, can become a hollowed-out habit, to be challenged from time to time in the name of authenticity. But to frown on the physical expression of worship (gestures of hand and arm, of head and knee, whatever) -- as though all such things were signs of hypocrisy or the attempt to put God in our debt -- would be as ridiculous as to suppose that such expressions were all that was required, without the devotion of the heart and mind. 
...The life of worship, then, is itself a corporate form of virtue. it expresses and in turn reinforces the faith, hope, and love which are themselves the key Christian virtues. From this activity there flow all kinds of other things in terms of Christian life and witness. But worship is central, basic, and in the best sense habit-forming.1

1.  N.T. Wright, After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters [Harper One: New York, NY; 2010] pp. 224-225 

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