Friday, October 29, 2010

Hierarchy of Worship

Most Protestants have never considered that there is a hierarchy of worship. This is not about false versus true worship, but degrees. 
Are there forms of worship than are superior to other forms? 
Since I can study subjects other than God’s word, is study a form of worship? Perhaps, but the highest form of worship? 

Since I can praise and thank people other than God, is praise and thanks a form of worship? Yes, but the highest form of worship?

Since I can pray/petition people other than God, is prayer/petition a form of worship? Yes, but the highest form of worship?

Is worship in the sincerity of the kneeling and bowing before my master? Actually, the Bible is filled with examples of God’s people bowing before other people, so bowing in and of itself is not worship.... Surely, it cannot be the highest form of worship, can it?
All these forms of worship can be given to others; so, are they the only forms of worship? Shouldn’t God have something we give to Him alone, a type of worship reserved ONLY for God? 
When we look at worship in the Old Testament, there does seem to be a crowning incarnation of worship found in the communal rites of the Temple. There alone, do we see the sacrificial offering of the innocent lamb to the Father in propitiation for sins. There we see the sinner, bound in the covenant relationship with God, partake in the communal meal ritual of consuming the flesh of the sacrifice. 
Worship in the Temple included praise and thanksgiving psalms being sung by a professional choir of levites. It included bowing, the reading of the Torah and prayers, but they were subordinate and assisted in the worship. They were not the zenith of the worship. It was the sacrifice. 
The supremely powerful consummation of worship was found in the communal sacrifice. The holiest sacrifice was on the Hebrew day of Atonement. 
In fulfillment of scripture and to bring in the New Covenant Kingdom, Israel’s temple  was destroyed in AD 70. Israel’s highest form of worship was gone and she was left only with the peripheral rites of Torah reading, songs of praise, prayer. These constitute real worship and a way of reaching God, but they no longer had the perfect and prime way of worship. The Temple sacrifice was then replaced by the ultimate, eternal sacrifice of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world--the Messiah Jesus. 
Those Hebrews who did not believe the Messianic Kingdom had arrived in Jesus, today still worship in hopes of the Temple being rebuilt. They long for the return of the epitome of worship in the communal sacrifice.
There is a parallel today in Christianity.
The Catholic church which is the seed of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven, was handed on the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Each day, and especially on Sunday, we re-present the Lamb to the father. We still have the ultimate form of communal worship. 
The reformers and Protestants today, willingly gave up the quintessential, unsurpassed form of worship and like the unbelieving Rabbinical worship of those who rejected Christ as the Messiah, are left with only the supportive rites of worship. Today, in Protestant churches, you will see the focus of worship in the sermon, prayers, praise and thanksgiving songs. They have rejected the sacrifice of Jesus as worship believing it was done away with at the cross. 
Yet there is no historical, nor Biblical evidence that the highest form of worship was done away with. The New Covenant has a new priesthood, that of the order of Melchizedek. Our sacrifice is the Son. 
As Catholics, we still re-present the Lamb of God as the rapturous, exalted and primary focus of our worship. 

2 comments:

Rachel said...

Wow! I'm glad I read this. That makes sense! I knew there was something missing with the worship in protestant churches...having just singing and preaching didn't feel like enough..and it felt too focused on emotions and other people. And then I hear that catholic's worship center on the eucharist, but I didn't understand that...now I understand it more!

Teresa Beem said...

I am just putting all this together too. When I was in RCIA they were mainly teaching people who were raised Catholic but were never baptized or confirmed, so they didn't make the mental jump from Protestant to Catholic.

The very structure of thinking between an American Protestant and a Catholic is so fundamentally different, that because we look at the form and some of the doctrines that look similar, we might be tempted to misunderstand each other.

Catholicism is a different thought structure entirely. You've got to get the the foundation BEFORE you can get their worship service or understand their doctrines. That is what I am trying to pass along here.

Thanks Rachel! Hopefully what I discover and pass along will help bridge the understanding between Prots and Caths!!
God bless.

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