Hymns & Songs

What authentic worship is all about

Jul 2010    

Lord, Whose Love through Humble Service

Lord, whose love through humble service
bore the weight of human need,
who upon the cross, forsaken,
off ered mercy’s perfect deed:
we, your servants, bring the worship –
not of voice alone, but heart,
consecrating to your purpose
every gift that you impart.

Still your children wander homeless;
still the hungry cry for bread;
still the captives long for freedom;
still in grief we mourn our dead.
As, O Lord, your deep compassion –
healed the sick and freed the soul,
use the love your Spirit kindles
still to save and make us whole.

As we worship, grant us vision,
till your love’s revealing light –
in its height and depth and greatness
dawns upon our quickened sight,
making known the needs and burdens –
your compassion bids us bear,
stirring us to tireless striving
your abundant life to share.

Called by worship to your service,
forth in your dear name we go
to the child, the youth, the aged,
love in living deeds to show;
hope and health, goodwill and comfort,
counsel, aid, and peace we give,
that your servants, Lord, in freedom
may your mercy know, and live.

Albert F. Bayly, 1961

WHAT IS AUTHENTIC WORSHIP? at is the question that I am commonly asked to speak on in the various invitations that I receive from churches for workshops or seminars. What does the Bible have to say about true worshippers?

Generally speaking, the stereotypical answer that we get is “Worship that is in Spirit and in Truth” (John 4:23-24). Yet, the truth of the matter is that authentic worship is connected to “Love God and neighbour” (Mark 12:30-31). Furthermore, such love is expressed through humble service if we were to take seriously the words of Christ.

Jesus tells us,
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and
‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that
is what I am. Now that I, your
Lord and Teacher, have washed
your feet, you also should wash
one another’s feet. I have set you an example that
you should do as I have done for you.
I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master,
nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent
him. Now that you know these things, you will be
blessed if you do them.”
(John 13:13-17).

Observe that the crux of the matter for us is not so much that we do no not know this truth but rather what Jesus said in verse 17, “now that you know … do them”. We know, but are we doing it?

This hymn by Albert Frederick Bayly (1901–1984), an English Congregationalist pastor who lived through two World Wars, reminds us in the third stanza what is one of the important functions of our gathering for Sunday worship. It is,

As we worship, grant us vision,
till your love’s revealing light –
in its height and depth and greatness
dawns upon our quickened sight,
making known the needs and burdens –
your compassion bids us bear,
stirring us to tireless striving
your abundant life to share.

My challenge to those in charge of worship is this: Have you planned and enabled our worship services to be avenues by which our people can catch a vision of God’s love that stirs them to share God’s abundant life with others? Or are the worship services just perfunctory, paying lip service to God on high and also to make us feel good?

Authentic worship, like true Christian discipleship, can be qualitatively assessed. Listen to the words of Christ,
“Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a
bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear
bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit
… Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them.”
(Matthew 7: 17-18, 20).

Styles of worship come and go – then it was Seeker Sensitive, now it is Praise & Worship aka Hillsong, next is emergent. Yet the requirement from God does not change.

What is the good fruit that tells us our worship is authentic? I believe the answer is obvious now. The issue is whether we are prepared to be good trees to bear the fruit that delights God.

For a video of this hymn, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=So9Va9L8N8E.
Accessed on 5 June 2010.

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