Worship the Lord


If I say that I prefer this or that form of worship, as an Orthodox Christian, then it seems to me that I am seeking to enjoy the experience of worship rather than to make the necessary effort to discover God in the place where I am, and among the people I stand with. If worship is an experience in itself that I can criticise and compare and rank in order then it is not the experience of standing in the presence of God at all.

Worship is not a matter of finding the right exterior circumstances that will bring about the most exciting or moving feelings. It is a matter of giving God that which is due to him, however we feel, and whatever the circumstances we find ourselves. When we seek the perfect environment then we are not seeking God at all, because the greatest obstacle to true worship is found within our own heart.

Wherever I stand up to pray, and whoever I stand up to pray with, I may find myself in Heaven if I desire this. Nor is this a matter of phasing out what we might consider to be the unpleasant worship of others. It is to find in the voices of those others with whom we stand the quality which God sees and hears. That of faithful children of God offering all that they have, even in weakness and frailty.

What does this demand of us? It is that within the context of our properly Orthodox liturgical prayer together we sacrifice self-will and self- interest, joining ourselves with those who have gathered, and not wishing ourselves somewhere else. God is present with us, we may find him whatever the circumstances in which we gather with others. But to categorise the gift of God to us, the opportunity to enter into the divine glory hidden in vessels of clay, is already to reject the one whom we say we worship.

True worship is of the spirit and is in truth. We may find ourselves united with others in the experience of the life of the spirit, and in an experience of the radical truth that the presence of God reveals. Our categorisations into good and bad worship, moving worship and lifeless worship, exciting worship and boring worship, are all denials of the spirit and truth experienced by those who participate in true worship. Worship requires us to sacrifice our desires and preferences to others. Our thoughts, if we direct them to the circumstances in which we meet, should be concerned that others are able to make their own offering of worship, not that our own preferences and desires be fulfilled. This means letting go of some of the things we do hold dear and which have meaning for us, because our holding on to them as absolutely necessary to us makes them an idol and prevents us worshipping God. It does not mean that they be rejected but that we do not make them the object of our worship.

This is the Day of the Lord. This is the Temple of the Lord. The divine glory is present already if we will ask for humility to perceive it in our humble circumstances. Our worship is offered first from our own humble, selfless, holy, consecrated heart or it is not worship at all.

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