Jesus gave that command to Satan, in the midst of his temptation in the desert. The command is also meant for us. It is the supreme command given to the Church in order to be the Church. You see, simply stated, worship is what we do. It’s our number one priority. With that truth as our foundation it is vital to understand just what true worship is, and what happens when we gather together as the people of God in worship and praise.
When you think of worship you may first think of the liturgy, the order of service. It could be traditional or take on a more modern form. Either way, the liturgy is thought of as “the work of the Church.” On the surface that could imply that worship is something that we do for God, the sacrifice of the people of God to him. We come to church, sacrificing our time on Sunday morning. We sacrifice some of our wealth in the offering, and we make a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God for being our loving God. Now if that’s the way we look at it we have it wrong, almost backward! Yes, the liturgy is the work of the Church, but the key is that it’s not us who do the work but rather God working for us to bring forgiveness and eternal salvation. The German word for the liturgy is “Gottesdienst” which translates to “God’s service” In worship God is at work, serving us in Word and Sacrament. The worship service can be aptly termed “Heaven on Earth”, as Jesus is physically present, and wherever Jesus is there also is the kingdom of heaven. Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father, which Martin Luther states can be anywhere and everywhere He chooses to be. So as Jesus is physically present with us in his Word and in the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper we enjoy fellowship with him and all the saints of heaven. Our response to Jesus’ presence and his giving us the gifts of forgiveness and salvation is to thank and praise to him. Everything else that we do as a church, fellowship, education, evangelism, social ministry, etc. then flows outward from our worship. It’s empowered by the Holy Spirt who works and grows faith in our hearts through the proclamation of the Word of God and through the sacraments.
Music has always had an important role in the worship of God in his Church. From the beginning of organized worship, commanded by God through Moses at Mt. Sinai, music was to be included in the corporate worship of Israel. Even before that, Moses worshiped the Lord in song after the Pharaoh’s army was swept away in the Red Sea. Many of the Psalms were written to be sung by a choir in the temple worship of the people of God. After receiving the Lord’s Supper, and before heading out to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus and his disciples sang a hymn. (Matthew 26:30) Music in various forms and instrumentation has been a support for the worship of the Church since the days of the Apostles.
That brings us to our worship here at St. John’s. For the past 40 years we have been faithfully served by our wonderful Wicks Organ. We’ve been enlivened and uplifted through the playing of this fine instrument by highly skilled organists as it has accompanied our singing and offered preludes, postludes, interludes and voluntaries. Now as the organ has reached “middle age” it is in dire need of some attention, some tender loving care. Even in enduring a move from 3rd and Division, a couple of years in storage, and then reinstallation in our new sanctuary our organ has marched on, faithfully carrying out its role in our worship, without a complaint. All of this has not come without a cost. There are some serious issues with our organ that need to be repaired, and we are committed to making these repairs so that the organ can continue its faithful service long into the future. Here’s where you, me, all of us come in. October is ORGAN DONOR MONTH. We will raise money throughout October with the goal of reaching $6,000, the estimated cost of the needed work by some of the finest organ technicians in all of the Pacific Northwest. Stay tuned for fundraising activities and opportunities. We’re not asking for an arm or a leg, or even a lung or kidney, just a willing heart to share the bounty that God has rained down on each of us in order that our organ may remain healthy and happy for many years into the future.