Is our worship dull and boring? If we took a nap during one of our services, would we really miss anything?
Today’s reading talks about worship. It does so as a multisensory experience that is anything but tedious and dreary.
Sight is engaged as our eyes are captured by the “living creatures”. Special effects in movies these days provide some pretty impressive “eye candy”, but the creatures we find here are even more riveting.
Our ears are engaged by compelling sounds. The living animals apparently have some sort of voice (is their worship spoken with the authority of a lion's roar; does it resonate with bellow of an ox; does it pierce like the cry of an eagle?). The elders sing and chant.
Our bodies are engaged by action and posture and position. People “fall down”. They throw things—namely their crowns, at the feet of God’s throne. A food fight isn’t exactly a similar image—it’s more like the antithesis of what is pictured here—but people don’t sit in a food fight unengaged. The throwing speaks of active participation.
This is not meant to be taken as a literal description of what we’ll experience in heaven. Does God toss the crowns back to the living creatures so they can throw them back to the throne? Or do they take a break from worship to go pick them up themselves so they can toss them again and repeat over and over again? Do they regrow new crowns? The details are not what is important. What is important is the scope and scale of the grand drama taking place, so that we too find ourselves standing in awe before God’s throne.
So here is the question: How is our worship going these days? Do we catch something of what it means to enter into the presence of the living God, and that this is not something we do casually and lightly? Do we begin to perceive that worship is about beholding that which God is doing in the world and wholeheartedly taking our place in it?
Too often we approach worship tired, disinterested, without focus or expectation.. I hope today’s reading will give us all a renewed realization of how our worship can be—should be—so much more than it often is.