Acts of Worship | Hebrews 13:13-16
So let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is—not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. This “insider world” is not our home. We have our eyes peeled for the City about to come. Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name. Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets. Hebrews 13:13-16 | MSG
As was observed in our last reflection, signs of being awake, along with practices that help us to stay awake, are as numerous as the individuals creatively seeking them out. I grew up in a church context for whom a key tenet of faith was that there are five “scriptural” acts of worship – all of them connected to and fulfilled in what happens in a certain building at a certain time, ideally three times a week. The readers of the Hebrew’s letter were likewise feeling compelled to identify worship as what happened in a physical temple at designated services. And while gathering together in large or in small groups is another vital spiritual practice, we miss a fundamental truth if we primarily associate worship with one location at a designated hour. The Hebrews were challenged to “go outside” – to quite literally step out of a temple system that had lost its way and missed the point, and see genuine worship and sacrifice as what happens every time we open our mouth in praise, each time his name is on our lips, each moment we get down on our knees alongside others and help them lift a load they simply can’t carry on their own. There is a vital connection between being awake and being open! These are the sacrifices that God is truly seeking. Micah saw it centuries ago: “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:6-8). We would all do well to have as our primary reference point for “worship” not a church sanctuary we occupy once a week, but the kitchen, the workplace, the streets we live in each day.
What does your “worship” life look like? Is it “on fire”? Out cold? On hold? Hibernating? Cruising? Or what? Why?
Lord, whether in a literal sanctuary or simply walking through the sanctuary of life, loose my tongue to sing, my mind to wonder after you, my lips to speak your name, my hands to help my neighbor. With every breath let me breathe in you, and exhale mercies.
As you drive, ride your bike, or take the bus today, turn music and voices off. Try having a conversation with God. Talk about what you see, the people you are passing, your plans, your worries. Or just sit quietly, listening for his voice. Try it.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.