Treating one hour a week as the essence or extent of our worship is like visiting a port at Cozumel but never leaving the fenced-in touristy confines. Treating one hour a week as the essence or extent of our worship is like spending a few hours in LaGuardia on a layover and confusing that with a trip to New York. What we do during our hour of collective worship, and when possible, gathered worship, is important. But it is important for worship in that it is a port or portal from which we enter the rest of the world in worship. Worship has never simply been what we do for an hour a week in a sanctuary on a Sunday morning. Worship is what we do everywhere we go the other 167 hours each week. That’s what the prophets warn over and over when acts of worship become a substitute for lives of worship, justice, and love like Isaiah 1 describes. That’s what Paul is getting at when he says this in Romans 12:1. “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice-the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” The rituals, the offerings, the sacrifices and songs can all be good. But what are they good for? Rituals are good when what they symbolize becomes actualized in our lives. When we offer words of worship to the God who calls for justice, who wants us to help the oppressed, the orphans, the widows, but our words are just words with no actions (or worse, we perpetuate and participate in the very things God is against), then our worship has accomplished nothing. This pandemic has forced us to face what we always should have remembered. Worship has left the building. It was never supposed to stay here in the first place. Offer every hour as a living sacrifice. This has always been the way to worship God.
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