What is the goal of worship? This is the question I would like to consider as I continue the week long theme on worship. Marva J. Dawn serves as Teaching Fellow in Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Years ago she wrote a very helpful book on the theme of worship, “Reaching Out without Dumping Down: A Theology of Worship for the Turn-of-the-Century Culture.” Marva provides readers with a much needed balance to the discussion on worship, as well as profound insights for reflection.
What stands out the most and is useful for evaluating worship in her book is Marva’s drive to make worship intentional in fulfilling a specific goal in worship. What is this goal? She states the following:
"I am very interested in using modern music . . . but our music must contain the substance of the faith, the heritage of the Church’s uniqueness, the character-forming truths of Christianity . . . Our worship services ought not to be designed by what appeals to the masses in order to survive financially; rather, they must be planned in a genuinely worshipful way that invites persons into the essence of truthful Christianity" (46-47). Paramount to Marva (see Vanhoozer in yesterday's blogspot) is the centrality of God in all of worship. His person must be the object of our worship. She believes that, “We cannot respond to God as the object of our praise unless we first see him, know him, let him be God in our lives” (87).
Marva goes on to discuss the significance of praising God. She writes, "Praise encompassing all of God’s character provides a safe haven within which we can face ourselves and acknowledge the truth of our brokenness, rebellions, and idolatries” (91). This means that the internal transformation that ought to characterize followers of Christ will take place as we consistently take the focus off ourselves and place them more intently on God.
What is the goal of worship? Marva quotes from C. Welton Gaddy, who writes the following: "'For whom is worship? Worship is for God. Only! The chief aim of worship is to please God - whether by adoration and praise, prayer and proclamation, confessions and offerings, thanksgivings and commitment, or by all of these actions combined'" (Gaddy, The Gift of Worship, 201, quoted in Dawn, 80). In worship we are saying "'God alone matters.'"
Is your goal in worship God alone? What should happen as we enter a time of worship where God alone is our focus? What kind of believers are we becoming as a result of how we are deepening our relationship with God? This will be our topic tomorrow.