Saturday, July 02, 2005

Ancient-Future Talk: June 2005

I've got a question for you!

Hello again! Before I ask my question I want to thank the many of you who respond to my monthly newsletter. At first I tried to respond to everyone, but I receive far too many responses to be able to do so. However, I do read every response and find most to be stimulating to my own mind. So, while I don't write to each of you personally, please regard my AFT as a kind of continuing response to your e-mails, a means by which to engage our hearts and minds together.

This month's question arises out of my continued thinking about much modern and contemporary worship. Here is the question: Is God the object of our worship or the subject of worship?

Note that I ask "Is God the object of our worship? If God is an object "up there" and "out there" who wants us to praise, worship, and adore Him, then worship arises from within me. It is something I do. I praise God, I honor God, I reverence God, I exalt God.

Or, on the other hand, if God is the subject of worship, it is God who works and acts in worship. God chooses to initiate a relationship, to become present to us through the words and in the enactment of God's story at bread and wine. The worship or response of God's people, then, is to be formed by the story of God into the people of God. Worship is not what I do to enthrone God in the heavens. It is rather an active present memory of God's work to restore creatures to fellowship with the community of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to renew all creation. Worship rehearses the truth about the God who not only creates, but re-creates through his own two hands-word and spirit-and bids us to worship 24/7 through an entrance into the new life that God himself brings. It is living into the new heavens and the new earth, under the eternal rule of Christ in the Kingdom of God.

I am anxious to hear what you have to say. If you embrace this very old ancient paradigm it will revolutionize the way you think about worship and the way you plan worship from week to week. (I've also addressed this same matter in the next issues of Worship Leader magazine.)

Bob Webber
Myers Professor of Ministry
Director of M.A. in Worship and Spirituality
Northern Seminary