His call to worship is the rising of the Sun, his Benediction, the Moon.
In our previous posts (Part 1 & Part 2) we have looked at Jesus as the supreme and only Worship Leader (High Priest) worthy of such a title—its who he IS. In Part 2 of our series we considered what he does as our worship leader. Understanding Jesus’ role is crucial in the universe because the form and duties that he observes and preserves in his kingdom clearly become our forms and patterns on earth. In the next three posts we will look at the implications of God’s High Priest Liturgical leadership in his kingdom, and how it effects three things: the cosmos, the church, and the culture.
Firstly, let’s consider God’s role as Liturgical High Priest over all of creation.
God’s work and ministry is beyond time. Jesus’ role within the Trinity was present and at work even before the foundations of the world. This means, that creation was manifested out of and from the Trinity’s Worship Ministry, and it reflects the rhythms of his being and nature. The Kingdom of God’s habits are woven right into creation’s fabric.
Consider Genesis 1:1-5 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
God as worship leader and minister of creation steps down to hover over and gather up the disheveled and darkened deep. This is rhythm one of his leadership—He gathers. In Step 2 he fills all things with meaning—he speaks (then “God said…”). In this way all of creation embodies his personality, mind, imagination, thoughts, and intentions, and it points to him in every manner. Step 3, creation responded to his word. Creation obeys. In Step 4, God sends and assigns the light to its appointed place in space and time. All of creation thus sits in God’s hand, is filled with his message, and responds and is sent. It is gathered, spoken to, it responds to him, and it is sent for his purposes. This rhythm is repeated hundreds of times throughout the Scripture, sometimes whole books of the Bible are organized around this pattern.
In the Psalms, numerous songwriters observe God’s rhythms in creation, and respond to his leadership in worship. In Psalm 119 the writer says; “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.” In Psalm 63:6 the writer ends the day with moon; “when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night…” Here the Psalmist recognizes that creation has a pattern, a form, and a habit. Our circadian rhythms are not set to observe morning devotions and night time prayer simply because we need to have a “quiet time.” As creation’s worship leader, God programmed creation to form and mold us into his image and way of life.
Throughout Jewish history this rhythm has continued in big and small ways. For example, Jews believed, “Abraham instituted the morning service (Gen. 19:27); Isaac introduced the Minha-service (Gen. 24:63), and Jacob introduced the evening service (Gen. 28:11).” In it were incorporated prayers which the Christians also emulated in the early church; “three times daily…taken over from the Synagogue: the third hour for the morning service (Acts 2:15), sixth hour for the afternoon service (Acts 10:9); and the ninth hour for evening service (Acts 3:1).” They saw the prayers as habitual, and to be used as the “possibility for scriptural reasoning and liturgical formation.”
The Jews recognized that the earth was God’s temple. They partnered with this leadership in all that they did. The creation account of Genesis 1 speaks of God’s rhythm in filling the sky, the land and the sea. This is not merely a record of scientific realities. These record the work, the liturgy, and the form of our worship leader. The orbs of the heavens, the animals that creep, fly and crawl, and the plants that flutter, spring, float and cling are objects of worship in God’s conducted church service. Animals are metaphorical aesthetics, climate zones are sacred spaces, and land, sky and sea stand to tell of God’s judgments, righteousness, and loving faithfulness.
Still don’t believe me? The same word used of Christ as “minister” in Hebrews 8:2 is used in the Hebrew form in Psalm 103:19-22 to refer to God’s angelic and astronomical hosts; “The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!”
God holds a cosmic “church-service” each and every day, over which presides his angels (Gk. Angelos meaning ‘messengers of grace), his spheres, his oceans, and every fault line running through the earth’s crust. They all sing, move, dance, and sway to the praise of His name. Like a giant conductor our God fills all in all. He sings over all in all.
As for me and my house…
As I leave you with the above thoughts today, I hope it stirs your imagination with fascination. I hope you erupt with tremendous awe at the work of our master conductor. He strums a symphony in his work and there’s nothing in all of creation that is not part of his score. His worship goes beyond music! It is itself an orchestral masterpiece. All the moving pitches, dynamics, tension, resolve, cadences, transience, and refrains speak his glorious name. Let’s praise our High Priest, our Minister, our Worship Leader.