What is Worship?

What is Worship?
The word "worship" comes from an old English word that literally means "worth-ship." It denotes someone’s worthiness to receive special honor. The biblical use of the word emphasizes the act of prostration or falling on one's knees. When we worship, we come with this attitude – recognizing that God is the Holy and unfathomable Creator of all. We also come gratefully, because God reaches toward us and seeks to live in relationship with us. We believe that God has expressed this desire supremely through Jesus of Nazareth. In worship we acknowledge who God is, give thanks for God’s grace, love, and forgiveness, and respond by seeking to live as the scriptures, prophets, and Jesus instruct.

While Christians worship in many ways and places, the Bible instructs us to gather for worship weekly. Our human experience – both collective and individual – tells us this is a good idea. Unless we engage in renewing and growing in our relationship with God, we tend to shrink spiritually. Worship is a time when we receive (through fellowship, teaching, and the sacraments) and give (by singing, sharing, and joining in liturgy). It is a time when God is mysteriously present in our midst in a special way.

Worship is supposed to refresh and renew us. The Sabbath is meant to be a day of rest, when we experience renewal and re-creation. It’s a time of re-balancing, re-centering, and remembering what – and who – is truly most important. Amid the many competing voices that call for attention and allegiance, communal worship helps us learn, remember, experience, and practice what it means to be the people of God and followers of Jesus Christ.

Why We Sing
“The value of hymn-singing cannot be overstated. It gives us opportunity to communicate with God, express unity as believers, verbally witness to one another and spiritually grow in the understanding of our faith. The sung word is powerful, uplifting and inspiring. By singing great scriptural and poetic texts drawn from many generations of our worshipping heritage, we participate in something far greater than any one of us could accomplish on our own.” -Howard Helvey, Composer, Songwriter

Creeds and Affirmations
“We recite creeds to affirm our unity in Christ with those who wrote them, the many generations who have recited them before us, and those who will recite them after we have gone.” -Rev. J. Richard Peck (retired editor for the United Methodist Publishing House)

The Doxology is sung as praise and thanksgiving. It usually follows the congregation’s offering during the worship service but can also be used as a blessing before a meal, in times of sorrow or distress such as funerals, or spontaneously at times of great joy.

Confession and Pardon
“A prayer of confession and declaration of pardon belong together, neither should be used without the other. In an opening prayer of confession, the people confess the sin of which they are already aware and then come to the Proclamation of the Word in the assurance of God’s pardoning grace. Confession as a Response to the Word includes the added awareness of personal and corporate sin to which persons are led by the Proclamation for the Word.”  Book of Worship, page 20-21

A sacrament is a means by which God manifests his grace to his people. It is God’s gift of grace to us. Grace is given prior to and without reference to anything we may have done. A sacrament is a rite which conveys driving grace, blessing, or sanctity upon the believer who participates in it. The United Methodist Church has two sacraments: baptism and communion.