Several years ago I attended a preaching and worship conference at Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond. One of the facilitators, Milburn Price, shared with us that he sees worship as a dialogue between God and the congregation, the congregation and God, and the congregation to the congregation. What does this look like in our worship?
How does conversation occur from God to the congregation? In our worship, we strive to provide several opportunities for God to speak to you. Each week, we include two different scripture readings, one Old Testament and one New Testament. Typically these scriptures are related to a similar topic. It is important, we believe as staff, that Scripture be heard every week. The hymns we sing many times are songs based on scripture or scripture truths that communicate to us God’s “thoughts.” During the prelude and offertory, we attempt to provide opportunity for reflection and meditation in which God’s spirit may speak to you. Hopefully, a sermon well thought out and bathed in prayer and preparation is a word from God to all of us. Many times the musical specials are words to us from God. Occasionally we add drama or pictures as a means of hearing a word from God. We have some physical features that help us hear a word from God. We light candles to remind us that the Light of the World is here to worship with us. Each week a child or two will open the sanctuary Bible to the scripture for the day as a symbol of God inviting us to “hear” his word.
There are many ways that dialogue from God to the congregation can occur in a worship service. Yet, the most important element is the personal preparation that the individual brings to the experience. We all know that any person can “tune out” the voice of another, even God’s voice. Critical to worship is the attitude which the participant comes with. Are you expecting God to speak? Do you listen carefully for God’s word about living and serving? Are you attentive to the many ways God might choose to speak to you and to us?
May the voice of God speaking become clearer as we work to hear His word to us each week.