A Letter from the Associate Minister for Outreach to Pittsburgh Presbytery
Let Us Worship God!
September 3, 2015
All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:
“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” (Revelation 7:11-12)
I can’t stop thinking about our worship of the living God! Those set-apart times when we gather as community to extol the name of the Lord. I will confess that have always loved to worship God. As a child, what I most cherished was the reading of the scriptures. It seemed to me the most dynamic narrative—better than any of my childhood stories. Each Sunday I would wait for those truths to light a fire in my heart and make my head swim with images of Jesus and pictures of the majesty of God. As I got a bit older, it was the music that began to ignite my spirit. Week after week I learned to sing the ancient songs of our faith. The word came alive anew in the harmonies of our hymns and the rhythm of our spirituals. Later still, I began to hunger and thirst for the proclamation of the Word. Instead of dreading that lengthy sermon (which I confess I might have done once or twice as a child) I learned how to listen for the word of God to me and for us.
In moving out into the country away from the Presbyterian church of my youth, I spent some particularly cherished university years with an ecumenical ministry group. During that long season of discovery, I had the joy of experiencing God’s presence and power in the incense-filled sanctuary of my Greek Orthodox brother. I learned the transcendent liturgies of my Episcopalian sister’s tradition. I discovered the intimacy and friendship of Jesus in accepting the Baptist pastor’s invitation to “clap your hands and dance like King David” Oh, what joy!
Even after seminary, my opportunities for dynamic worship continued. I discovered what it meant to worship God in Spirit and in truth through the charismatic house-church meetings of my Long Island neighbors. Our A Capella songs in praise of the Triune God helped me to envision God enthroned upon the praises of God’s people! Those intimate times of worship and fellowship secured in me the truth that humans don’t live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God!
Just last month, I found myself in the midst of a gathering of disciples at the 1001 New Worshipping Communities conference in Florida. These were Presbyterian pastors of (nearly) every tribe and race and tongue and nation. And for four days we reveled in every aspect of worship together - transcendent liturgies, passionate harmonies, prophetic preaching, the breaking of bread, raised hands (and even a bit of dancing!). Together, as Presbyterian people, we celebrated the majesty and might of our God and shared with one another just what God is doing in our midst. It was more than inspiring—it was transcendent! It was a glimpse of heavenly worship where God’s elders fall on their faces in awe and wonder and praise—and this happened with Presbyterians!
Now, at this time people are heading back from their summer vacations and once again entering sacred spaces to worship. So I encourage you, as you prepare to lead in whatever space that God has called you to tend, remember to tell them about the majesty of our God. Boldly proclaim the word so that it will dwell richly in their hearts! Inspire them with new liturgy, set a place for them at Christ’s table, that they can be nourished and sustained by the Bread of Heaven. Give them a reason to clap their hands (and maybe even dance a little!). Let them experience worship in Spirit and let it be true!
Waiting for Him,
The Rev. Ayana H. Teter, Associate Minister for Outreach to Pittsburgh Presbytery
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