“Worship”

I wake up early on one of my days off work. When the bells ring across town, I walk into a beautiful old building made of stone and sit in uncomfortable wooden benches. I smile as people, mostly over 60 years of age, ask me how I’m doing. There is chattering until about a dozen robed people walk into the room and take their seats at the front, slightly more elevated from the floor than the rest of us. People in the room–myself, my husband, the people older than 60 years, and the robed people–spend the next 60 minutes reading old stories passed down to us from people who lived thousands of years ago. We sing songs about these stories. One of the robed people spends 15 or 20 minutes discussing and analyzing a few of these old stories, and tells us how the stories may matter for us today. After this robed person is done with their analysis, we sing a few more songs written about the old stories; we shake the hands of everybody sitting on the wooden benches around us and tell them we hope their life is going well; we all share a loaf of bread and a glass of wine to symbolically remember one of the old stories. We close out the hour with a final song, and then we all go into the next room to talk about our lives while drinking coffee and tea. 

Without using jargon, this is how I describe what we may think worship looks like. But what does “worship” mean?

There are many Hebrew words used to describe worship: bowing down, falling down, dancing, singing, seeking, inquiring, ministering, and more. It is action. It is movement.

“Avad” is one of the Hebrew words for “worship.” In the story of the Exodus, the Sabbath is discussed: “Six days you shall avad, but on the seventh day you shall rest.” Here, “avad” means worship, but it also means “to serve” and “to work.” 

So worship is not something that is done one morning a week. Contrarily, worship is something that is intertwined with the other six days of the week when we are working and serving the world and its people.

Worship is not a one hour event each week. Worship is action, movement, and a general posture towards life.

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