The Divine Service is God’s Service Toward Us
“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28
For the past several weeks, the adult Bible study has been enjoying a video series on the liturgy. The study does a wonderful job of showing how our current liturgy reaches back almost 2,000 years to a form very similar to the early Christians. Aside from explaining the origins of many of the nuts-and-bolts in our liturgy, this study did something else. Perhaps one of the simplest and most profound assertions was this: the Divine Service (worship) is a time for God to serve us. Jesus Himself said this, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
We should continually remember this point about our worship because I believe it can be easy for us to for-get. For example, the Roman Catholics still view the mass as a sacrifice the priest is offering to God. Some evangelicals will view worship as a time in which THEY are giving something to God from within themselves (as if God needs anything to exist!). There are some non-Christian religions which will bring offerings to their gods (statues) of milk and rice. Do you see how easily we can become confused when it comes to worship?
The best way for us to consider our stance in relationship to God during worship might be found in the story of Mary & Martha. You may remember Martha was scurrying around trying to make all kinds of preparation SHE could give to Jesus. All the while her sister, Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching.” She was giving Jesus nothing other than her devotion and undivided attention. Of highest importance is that Mary was RECEIVING Jesus’ life giving Word. When Martha approached Jesus about this, He simply said, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41, 42).
During worship, Jesus is very busy doing things for you, isn’t He? When we call upon His name (the invoca-tion), He reminds us we have been baptized by Him and united to Him now and forever in His death and resur-rection. As we confess our sins, He actually removes those sins from us (absolution). Through the readings, Je-sus speaks to us through His Word teaching us, sometimes convicting us, but always calling out to us to come back to Him for rest, comfort, and life. As we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, it is Jesus Himself who physically comes to us in the midst of our sin darkened world to feed us saying, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
Don’t get me wrong, we do give our thanks and praise to God in worship, but we do so out of gratitude for all the wonderful things He is already doing for us. During worship we are simply saying, “thank-you!”
— Pastor Grimenstein