In observation of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, we continue in our series of posts titled "The Whys of Worship," exploring the Worship form used for generations: Gathering, Word, Meal, and Sending. In our first post we focused on “Gathering.”
In this post, guest blogger, Roberta Menapace walks us through the role of the Word in our worship.
As someone whose mind tends to convert ideas into songs, I’ve been humming the tune to Amy Grant’s “Thy Word” ever since I started considering this topic. She sings: “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”. This simple statement captures the reason why we need to hear the Word every time we worship. As Christians, we strive to live our lives according to God’s will. We want to be disciples of Jesus by continuing the work He began during his brief time on Earth. We pray that the Holy Spirit will fill us with the courage to go out into the world and love our neighbors as ourselves. Yet, despite our best efforts, we always fall short. Our humanity keeps us rooted where we are, comfortable among our many friends and possessions.
When we come to worship, we gather with others who also desire to hear the Word. Sitting among a community of believers, listening to the Word of God, is a powerful experience. Yes, we can, and should, read the Bible on our own. But hearing the Word during worship, singing the Word in songs and hymns, and delving deeper into the Word during the sermon, help us to really live the Word. God’s Word becomes a lamp unto our feet as we venture out into the larger world.
John begins his Gospel with this very idea: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:1-5
With these verses, John gives us the essence of the Gospel story and our reason to worship. Simply put, the Word of God is life and light. By not only hearing the Word but taking the Word to heart, we become the life and light of God. We walk out into the larger community as stewards of Christ, shining the light of His love into the dark corners of the world. We need the Word of God to lead us, encourage us, and sustain us every day.
Increasingly, we seem to be bombarded with news of divisiveness, hatred, and violence. It becomes harder and harder to be a light in the darkness. It almost feels as if our own light is dimming. Yet our mission as the Church is to be the light, the light of Christ’s love for the world. When we worship together and hear the Word, we strengthen our love for Christ and each other. Together our lights illuminate a path for us, and others, to follow out of the darkness. Thanks be to God!
God, our light in the darkness, through Your Word we are put together. Shape us for the work ahead, that we may be a beacon of Your love and hope to the world around us.
Roberta Menapace has deep roots in the community of Saint Luke and currently resides in Toronto.