Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What is Worship?

I wish I were full of answers today, but instead I’m full of questions. Yesterday I was struck by the word worship. It is a word I’ve heard and used all my life; “I go to Church to worship.” But suddenly it hit me that I don’t really know what that means.

I looked up the word and my dictionary said, “Reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also: an act of expressing such reverence.” The word comes from Old English weorth which means worthy and -scipe a suffix which in English translates into –ship a suffix meaning “state or condition of.” That only gave me more questions. How do I “Reverence God”? Is the state of "worthy" mine or His?

From this etymology of the word I got the feeling that worship is praising God's worthiness. But simply saying words of praise seems to fall short of what my heart tells me is intended.

What all this pondering boils down to is this question: What is the difference between sitting through a Sacrament meeting and worshiping at a Sacrament meeting?

I’ve pondered for hours now and think I’m discovering some important things, but I’d like to hear what you think. Please leave a comment and tell me what you think it means to worship God or how you think we should worship.


Anonymous said...

I don't know if I fully understand the state of true worship, either. I've found that sitting quietly and thoughtfully through the sacrament is not enough. However, when I consciously think about the Atonement during the Sacrament, and try to tie my thoughts with each speaker to different aspects of the Saviors' life, and especially the Atonement and what it means to me, I leave church feeling more a sense of real worship. I try to do it in classes, but because of various discussions, etc. I find it harder to keep my thoughts focused on the Savior. I have a long way to go, I know, but I feel making that effort brings me closer to the Spirit, and feeling a better sense of true worship. I would love to see how others accomplish a sense a true worship. Thank you for bringing up this question, as it is important to each of us.

Jon Hurst said...

My wife sent me here because we just discussed the meaning of worship. I do not pretend to fully understand worship, but my understanding improved yesterday.

Our family home evening lesson this week centered around doctrine & covenants 59, which details Sabbath day observance in Zion. I could not think of a way to explain to my small children the word “oblations,” making me realize that I probably did not really understand it.

A discovery I made earlier this year that I have really enjoyed is, an online version of Noah Webster’s first comprehensive dictionary (conveniently contemporary with The Book of Mormon and The Doctrine & Covenants and much less secular than today’s dictionaries). The most pertinent definition of oblation is “Anything offered or presented in worship or sacred service; an offering; a sacrifice.”

This sent me searching for the definition of worship: “the act of paying divine honors to the Supreme Being; or the reverence and homage paid to him in religious exercises, consisting in adoration, confession, prayer, thanksgiving and the like.” Also, “To honor with extravagant love and extreme submission; as a lover.”

These definitions spoke to me and I felt very good about teaching my children that to worship is to offer God what we are able to give. We had a great discussion about what that meant, but this is growing too long! My take away was that to worship meant offering my “extravagant love” (my heart) and my “extreme submission” (my will) in a specific act of worship (my oblation, which could be any number of things as long as I keep the next part) during which I understand and remember exactly what it is I am offering and to whom I offer it.

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

I appreciate so much the comments from Cathy and Jon. You've both given me new directions to search and things to ponder. I really liked the "extravagant love" and the "extreme submission" insights. Thanks to both of you.