Annie Dillard once compared worship to a play we “have been rehearsing since the year one. In two thousand years,” she says, “we have not worked out the kinks.” True but we don’t rehearse this play hoping to work out the kinks—that will never happen, not in this life anyway. We rehearse this play called Christian worship in order to participate once more in the story and to refresh our memory about our part in it.
— Thomas G. Long, Accompany Them with Singing.
I’ve been searching for a short, simple, well-rounded definition of worship for a long time. Many times I’ve heard that worship is “all about praising God,” but that statement ignores the fact that much of what we do is not praise, at least not strictly speaking. We also affirm our own faith, lift up our joys and concerns before the gathered congregation, read sometimes-not-particularly-uplifting passages of scripture, present our offerings, confess our sins, etc. I like the idea of understanding worship as participating in God’s story and remembering the part we play. I also appreciate the frank acknowledgment that we don’t have all the kinks worked out.