Sunday, June 2, 2013

Worship and Posture

Psalm 95:6–7 (NKJV)
6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. 7 For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.

One of the most frequent questions visitors have about our service of worship, one of the questions that you may also have, is this: What’s the deal with all the different postures? We sit, we stand, we kneel, we bow heads, we lift hands – why all the variety?

The answer to these questions is threefold: first, God did not create us as ethereal beings but as creatures with body and soul. As those who have bodies, God expects us to use our bodies in self-conscious service of him. Paul concludes his warning against sexual sin this way, “For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” As human beings and as Christians we belong to God and so what we do with our bodies is not irrelevant. What we do with our bodies should reflect our relationship with Him.

So this leads us to the second answer to our question: why all the variety? The answer is that in worship there are a variety of things we do. We praise and thank the Lord; we confess our sins; we hear the assurance of pardon; we listen to the reading of the Word of God; we confess our joint faith; we present our tithes and offerings; we petition the Lord for mercy; we learn from the Scriptures; we feast with the Lord at His Table. This wonderful variety demands a variety of responses – both verbally and bodily. There is no “one size fits all” way to express ourselves to God.

 And this is why, third, the Scriptures invite and command us to worship God with a variety of postures – including standing, kneeling, sitting, lifting hands, etc. So notice our text today from Psalm 95 - Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. This is simply one example of the types of commands given to us in the context of worship.

Would it not be alarming, therefore, if we failed to respond to God with such variety? For all this variety is an attempt to embody what is going on in our hearts and souls when we appear in the presence of God each Lord’s Day. God has no interest in mere ceremony; no interest in a people that gather before Him to kneel and scrape and stand and sit but who have no heart for Him; who do all such things as a mere show or parade.

So what of you? Why do you stand? Why do you kneel? Why do you sit? Do you do it just because that’s what you’re being told to do? Do you kneel so you won’t appear out of place? Do you sit so you can take a nap? Or do you do all these things because you recognize with awe and wonder the glory of the One in whose presence we appear every Lord’s Day?

For this is the ultimate reason that our posture changes – we worship in the presence of God. He is here with us. So have you come here today recognizing this – that the Lord of glory is here and we dare not treat Him lightly? He calls us to worship; we respond by standing to praise Him. He thunders at our sin; we respond by kneeling to confess it. He assures us of pardon; we stand to listen and enter boldly into His presence through the blood of Christ. He instructs us from His Word; we stand to give our attention to its reading. This is the drama of the Divine Service – but it’s a drama that is meaningful only when accompanied by hearts that love and cherish Him.

So today God has thundered at our sin – let us kneel and confess that we have often just gone through the motions.