Sermon in a nutshell: Worship is extended (Leviticus 19:1-8)
What is worship?
Worship is the occasion when we confess the Worth-ship of God and praise Him. God is worthy of our praise! When we gather together to proclaim such faith, that is worship. Think about all the worship services. We have Sunday worship. We have also the Vesper service on Saturdays. Sometimes we have a special service, such as the Doug Emigh Retirement service (8/24@10 AM), occasional memorial services, funeral services, wedding services, and other special services. In all these worship services, who should be the center of the worship? God! We come to praise God!
In special services, we have to be really careful to praise God!
In special services, we tend to praise the person in the service. When I officiate at a memorial service, funeral service, wedding service, and at other services, I try to focus on God and help people to praise God! For example, in a memorial service, I try not to say that Mr. Doe was a great person but to say that God has given us a great person like Mr. Doe. On a wedding day, I try to give God’s blessings upon the couple but not to give advice on how to make a good couple. I will try to praise God, who has blessed our church through Doug’s music ministry, in Doug’s retirement service. It is not easy. We tend to praise humans in worship.
Why is worship important?
Worship is important because it is the foundation of our life. The first temptation for any human being is to become like God! We want to be the owner of our own lives! We do not want God to be the master of our lives. Worship is the declaration of surrender in front of God. Worship is the opportunity to say, “God is the master of my life”. It is a constant battle in our inner souls to let God reign. That is the reason we need regular worship: a minimum of once a week. However, our daily life should start with morning worship and end with bedside worship. Temptation is strong and worship has to be constant to fight against that temptation. Once we proclaim that we are masters of our lives, we are lost.
Reflections on human history show us that we need constant worship.
In the 19th century, when we humans had confidence in our reason, science, conscience, and future, we moved far away from religion and from God. The Renaissance movement declares that humans are very rational and that we can think correctly. Scientific advances encourage human endeavors and experiments in all areas. We had steam trains, light bulbs, telegrams, steamboats, compasses, and guns. We made new discoveries. With all those scientific advances what did we do? We conquered powerless nations, exploited them and kidnapped helpless people to make them slaves. Among the strong nations, we fought against each other to get a bigger piece of the pie. Then we ended up with World War I and II in the 20th century. We were like children with machineguns in hand. That is the human reality! We need someone who can say, NO, to us. Our human conscience and moral ethics could not stop us. Did we learn lessons from history and become smarter and better? In the 21st century we still have conflicts in the Middle East, on the Russian/Ukraine border, on the Korean peninsula, and in China to name a few.
In worship we confess that we are all wrong and only God is right.
In conflicts we say, “I am right and you are wrong.” In worship, we say, “we are all wrong and only God is right.” Worshippers can acknowledge their imperfections and embrace their fellow sinners. I can be wrong. You may be right. We will find out later in heaven when we see God face to face. In the meantime, let us live together agreeing to disagree! This attitude of tolerance comes from worship. This is the “holy” attitude that separates worshippers from the world!
What is the concrete ways to be holy?
God said to Moses in the passage that we read today, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” However, the following passages say this: “You shall each revere your mother and father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God. Do not turn to idols or make cast images for yourselves: I am the Lord your God.”
It does not say, “Follow all the commandments of your parents.” It does not say, “Agree with your parents.” However, it does say, “Revere your mother and father.” This attitude of reverence will make us holy. Even though I do not agree with my parents on all issues, I respect them and love them. They are givers of my life and my nurturers. They love me with all that they have. This acknowledgement makes me humble before my parents. They can be wrong in some issues. That does not rob them of my reverence.
It also says, “Keep my Sabbaths.” Take time to think about God’s Grace! Then we can come to the conclusion that everything is God’s Grace. We are ready and willing to worship God. I do not agree with all that God commanded me to do but I keep my basic trust and faith that there must be some reasons for God to say that. And I worship God.
With this humble attitude, we worship God and we share our blessings with others.
God promised our well-being. However, the Bible says that we have to eat the sacrifice of well-being within three days. The only way to eat the sacrifice within three days is to share it with neighbors. Vertically, we become humble. Horizontally, we are sharing. That is the extended worship that we offer to God!
- What did you learn about worship today?
- What do you want to share with others today?