‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector…
…The tax collector stood at a distance.
He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said,
“God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
‘I tell you that this man … went home justified before God.
For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’
In this story, from Luke 18, we see a man transformed by worship as he encounters a God who forgives sins, welcomes the humble, and restores relationships.
Passionate worship is the place where such encounters with God can take place. It is time and space which the church creates in order that worshippers may be transformed by the power and love of God. Sometimes this is sudden and dramatic; at other times the transformation is a more gradual pruning and shaping.
Passionate worship is worship in which there is an anticipation and an excitement about what might happen, and a deep longing to meet with God. This idea is picked up in some of the Psalms. Psalm 42 begins “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul longs for you”. Psalm 84 puts it like this: “My soul longs, indeed it faints, for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God … For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere”
How has God used worship to change and shape you?
Today Robert Schnase offers us this prayer and challenege:
Lord, cause us to be what you call us to be:
shaped by your Holy Spirit and changed by our love of God.
Challenge: Consider a recent service at your church. Think about each part of the service – greetings, songs, prayers, sermons – and meditate on its purpose for connecting people to God.