N.T. Wright on Worship
“How can you cope with the end of a world and the beginning of another one? How can you put an earthquake into a test tube, or the sea into a bottle? How can you live with the terrifying thought that the hurricane has become human, that fire has become flesh, that life itself came to life and walked in our midst? Christianity either means that, or it means nothing. It is either the most devastating disclosure of the deepest reality in the world, or it’s a sham, a nonsense, a bit of deceitful play-acting. Most of us, unable to cope with saying either of these things, condemn ourselves to live in the shallow world in between. We may not be content there, but we don’t know how to escape.
The way through this by sheer unadulterated worship of the living and true God, and by following this God wherever he leads, whether or not it is the way our traditions would suggest. Worship is not an optional extra for the Christian, a self-indulgent religious activity. It is the basic Christian stance, and indeed (so Christians claim) the truly human stance. Worship derives from “worth-ship” and it means giving God all He’s worth.
Worship is humble and glad; worship forgets itself in remembering God; worship celebrates the truth as God’s truth, not its own. True worship doesn’t put on a show or make a fuss; true worship isn’t forced, isn’t half-hearted, doesn’t keep looking at its watch, doesn’t worry what the person in the next pew may be doing. True worship is open to God, adoring God, waiting for God, trusting God even in the dark.
Worship will never end; whether there be buildings, they will crumble; whether there be committees, they will fall asleep; whether there be budgets, they will add up to nothing. For we build for the present age, we discuss for the present age, and we pay for the present age; but when the age to come (Christ’s return) is here, the present age will be done away.
Worship is nothing more nor less than love on its knees before the beloved; just as mission is love on its feet to serve the beloved . . .”