Worship: The Work of the People
But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be associated with them. For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light — for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.’
Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We don’t often talk about liturgy in the URC yet every minister and worship leader follows a liturgy – the only issue is whether anyone else sees it! From notes on the back of an envelope, through to skeleton orders of service, and to the suggested orders in Worship from the URC we have liturgies. The word liturgy has its roots in Greek words which mean “the work of the people” or “public service”.
As the people of God we, through song, word, and ritual, worship the Lord. We may, of course, squabble over the songs and the prayers and we may insist we don’t have ritual (though bending a knee or raising an arm are as much rituals as crossing oneself). Sometimes, as in the Daily Devotion services, we have responses allowing us to join in with aspects of the liturgy. Regardless of the style of service, we work together to worship God.
“Work” might not be the word most of us use. Yet work we do – we get up, we make time in our day, we take part. It’s work which should lift our spirits. If worship is done well then, regardless of style, we feel better about ourselves, the world and God afterwards. An old Iona liturgy reminded folk that whilst the service had ended our work, and worship, begin at the benediction – as we take what we’ve learnt and experienced and put it into practice. Maybe that’s another link with this word “work” – we have to work, puzzle, and ponder about how to link what we do on Sundays with how we live the rest of our lives. If there is no discernable difference in us after worship we’ve not put the work in!
Help us in our work and worship, O God,
to link what we experience and learn
with how we act and live,
that what we do on Sundays
will change our lives through the week,
so that our witness, service and evangelism
will bear fruit. Amen.