The problem is that it can so easily become about me. Without realizing it, many churches fall into the subtle trap of making worship about me. They look for music to entertain and inspire me. They pick hymns that talk about how God makes me feel. They preach sermons that focus almost entirely on me and my life.
Now, don’t get me wrong. All of those things can be good in the proper perspective. There is no “I” in team, but there is definitely an “I” in worship. I do go to worship to be inspired and taught. It should affect how I feel. It should apply to my life.
But, really, worship isn’t about me.
Worship is first and foremost about my God and Savior. The music of our worship shouldn’t focus so much on how I feel as much as on what God has done to save me. Good preaching should first and foremost proclaim the forgiveness and freedom that Jesus won for all people on the cross. Worship is about our God and what he has done.
Worship is also about those sitting around me. The writer to the Hebrews encourages us: “Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25). Worship is about engaging and encouraging each other. We not only sing our hymns to God. We sing them to encourage one another. We lift our voices in prayer for one another. In the creeds, we proudly proclaim to each other what we believe.
In our church, we use a liturgy – a set order of worship that has its roots in the Ancient Church. Do you know what the word “liturgy” means? It comes from a Greek word which means “service” or “work.” Many people today go to church, sit back and say, “Okay. Entertain me. Inspire me. Make me feel good.”
But liturgical worship – Lutheran worship – takes work. It takes work to really think about what we are saying and singing. It takes work to listen to and apply the Word being proclaimed. It takes work to worship.
Think about that the next time you park yourself in the pew. This isn’t about me. This is about my God who speaks to me in Word and Sacrament. This is about praising and thanking my God for the wondrous works he has done. This is about encouraging and building up those who are sitting around me. And the amazing blessing is that through the gospel message proclaimed in worship, I too will be encouraged. I too will be built up. I too will be inspired.
“Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary . . . praise him for his acts of power, praise him for his surpassing greatness . . . Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord. Praise the Lord” (Psalm 150).