Recently at Emmanuel we had a sermon and discussion on the subject of worship – in particular, how we should go about the continual process of trying to reform our worship in accordance with Scripture. For many people, this raises an uncomfortable tension.
On the one hand, obviously there must be something to be said for seeking to shape our worship in accordance with Scripture. It may not always be easy to figure out all the details, but in principle, since everything comes under the Lordship of Christ, it’s hard to regard the practical and liturgical details of our church services as unimportant.
But on the other hand, we want to avoid conveying the idea that the liturgical niceties are the be-all-and-end-all of the reformation of worship. Without retreating into gnostic pietism, there is surely something to be said for the idea that the LORD accepts those whose hearts are right before him, who seek him in faith with a repentant spirit.
2 Chronicles 30 sheds some helpful light on the subject. In this chapter, King Hezekiah is in the process of reorganizing the Passover festival after generations of neglect. Clearly, the King is concerned with making sure that everything is done in a certain way, as some of the details in the text make clear (e.g. vv. 14-16). We don’t know how (un-)comfortable the people found these arrangements, though we can be sure that they were unfamiliar with them, since the Passover hadn’t been celebrated for so long. But regardless of this, the liturgical details matter. (more…)