A few years ago I brought home an old book from the small library we have at Our Saviours: The Lutheran Liturgy. It was written back in 1958 and is a classic about the development of worship in the Church at large, and in the Lutheran church in particular.
There are many aspects to being a pastor that I enjoy. I enjoy visiting the sick and those who are shut-in. I enjoy teaching. I enjoy writing articles for our church newsletter. But at the top of my list of favorite duties is leading worship.
Worship is at the heart of the Church's life, and in the life of the Christian. There is nothing that influences our lives as Christians more than worship.
The Psalms remind us of our longing for God. A longing that leads to worship.
"How lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. . . . Blessed are those dwell in Your house, they are ever praising You."
It is in worship where we are reminded of our identity as God's children. It is in worship where we find meaning and purpose for life in the here and now. It is in worship where our faith is strengthened and we find security in Christ.
The Psalms put this more poetically and powerfully:
"I love the house where You live, O Lord, the place where Your glory dwells."
"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple."
The author of The Lutheran Liturgy, Luther Reed, notes something interesting. The uglier our society gets, the more we long to gaze on the beauty of the Lord: "The rising flood of materialism, godlessness, and selfish brutality in the world threatens all moral and spiritual values. Yet it increases the longing of Christians for spiritual reality in the house of God."
There is no place on earth like the church; there is nothing on earth that quite compares to worship.