by Rev. Dale Azevedo, Sr. Minister          –          October 1, 2019

What a fascinating question that is.

Why do you worship?

There are many different facets to that question and, likely, countless different answers. What I am asking today is, why does anyone worship? What is the point of us coming together each week to worship?

Adoration

Let’s start off with the name: worship. Think about that word for a moment. What does it mean to worship? AND, can what we do on Sunday morning actually be considered worship? Do we, in fact, worship? Webster’s New World Dictionary defines worship at “showing reverence for a deity.” A classic example of this definition is someone bowing down in awe of someone/something else. Another word for this experience is adoration: meaning honoring, celebrating, praising or exalting. How much of our time on Sunday morning is actually spent doing this? That’s an interesting question too. How important is adoration, “worship,” to your experience of what we do during worship?

Inspiration

Another BIG reason people come to worship is inspiration. Life is hard. We need to get our batteries recharged. People do this in all sorts of different ways, but for many folks that means going to church. We come to worship to get invigorated. One point of worship is to energize us to continue on with the ministry to which God has called us. It’s easy to get burned out, frustrated, or bored. Church helps to cure us of these ailments. Sometimes, even that is asking too much. For some folks, we need the power-up that church provides just to have the energy to get out of bed each day for the next week. Church gives us a purpose beyond ourselves that can provide the most basic motivation we need to carry on.

Affirmation

This one is related to the one above. The world is a brutal place. Maybe not all the time, but there are often moments in life where people or experiences cut us down. Where we are left feeling worthless, or close to it. Worship reminds us that no matter what, God cares! God cares for you. God cares for me. You are a blessed child of God and YOU MATTER. That is what worship reminds you each time you come. You are a sacred child of God and that is important to remember.

Education

Now, we’re getting to the heart of Congregational worship! Actually, I think education has very little, if anything, to do with the literal definition of worship (see Adoration above). However, in our Congregational background, and in much of mainline American Protestantism, education is at the center of our worshiping experience. Since the Pilgrims landed not too far away, our entire worship experience has revolved around the sermon. And one of the main functions of the sermon is education. It is a teaching tool. It also provides inspiration and affirmation, but it primarily remains a means of instructing the community on what it means to be a Christian. That is education. Think about this: For 99% of adults in our church, the only formal faith formation they get is through Sunday morning worship (ie the sermon). The vast majority of our membership doesn’t attend adult Bible studies or faith study groups. Therefore the worship service has picked up the slack, because that’s the only time most people gather to learn about God.

Communion

This one’s been coming up a lot in our conversations lately. However, communion in worship has two directions, vertical and horizontal. The horizontal communion is the one we probably think about first. In worship we develop relationships with one another and deepen our sense of community. We reach out to each other. However, the vertical communion is also present. This is the communion we develop with God. Worship is one of the few places that many people actually experience the divine. It isn’t the only place, as we can experience God in service, personal prayer, walking in nature, and countless other places. But worship is a time specifically set aside for us to experience God. And that is important!

So, why else do you come to worship? Out of the list above, are their aspects of worship that you appreciate more than others? Are there aspects that you never even considered and seem new to you today? Regardless of why you worship, I’m glad you do. I pray that you find it meaningful in your life and hope that you also see how your presence can enhance the worship experience of those around you. Because when you come to worship, you are never alone!

Amen. See you Sunday!