“With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship and with all my worldly goods I thee endow.”
These were the words spoken by the groom to the bride as he declared his total commitment of love to her in traditional Christian wedding services (The Book of Common Prayer, 1662).
Nowadays, we don’t use the word “worship” in this way. We restrict the word to our relationship with God.
Worship is something directed only to God, and not to another human being, not even to our spouse.
I don’t desire to change our modern usage of the word. But I hope we will allow our “worship” of God to include the personal, passionate and intimate love embodied in the old marriage vow between human lovers.
To worship God is to love God personally, passionately and intimately.
To worship God is to give him our body, soul and heart.
To worship God is to love God with one’s whole heart, body, mind and soul.
It is to feel, like the Psalmist (73:25-26), and declare to God:
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
This is the language of love and total devotion.
This is strong and sweet communion with God.
This is the essence of worship. But how can we love or commune in worship with someone we cannot see or touch?
My nephew met his fiancée online, and their friendship deepened over seven years without their meeting face-to-face! Some pen-pals never see each other, but they do share their feelings and very personal things as only close friends do.
How is this possible? Because true friendship is much more about being understood than about being seen.
It has more to do with our spiritual heart than with our physical ears. God can be our friend. God is able to communicate personal love and friendship to us if we open our heart and feelings to Him. He can be our friend, lover and Lord, even though we cannot see Him.
If you’ve never enjoyed a personal, intimate relationship with God, I invite you to begin.
John Wesley – who wrote of his “heart being strangely warmed” – would also invite us to begin.
God desires such an intimate, personal love relationship with us. It starts by simply “talking” about yourself and your feelings. Do that with God. Talk with God through prayer.
It may initially feel as if you are talking to yourself. But don’t stop. Keep talking, and soon you too might find God speaking to your heart.
This is part of what worship and communion with God means.
Let’s worship through loving God: body, soul, heart and mind.
The Rev Dr Gordon Wong was elected President of Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) in 2012 for the quadrennium. He has been a Methodist pastor for 28 years, and was a lecturer at Trinity Theological College since 1995.