Theme for the Year 2016-2017: Life of Worship
Luke 10:38-42 records a brief but challenging event in the life of Jesus. Jesus visits the home of Martha and Mary, and Martha admirably shows hospitality by welcoming and serving Jesus and the disciples. Mary, on the other hand, excuses herself from the pressing work so she can visit with Jesus and learn from him.
Upset that she has been left alone with all the work, Martha asks Jesus to rebuke Mary. Jesus’s response, however, is surprising: “Martha, Martha…you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (NIV).
Like Martha, many of us are people of action who find fulfillment in the things we do and the goals we accomplish. Ministers especially are vulnerable since we are doing “the Lord’s work.” Worship seems like an extravagant luxury, a spiritual “day at the spa,” taking us away from the pressing things that need to be done.
But perhaps that is the point of worship. We were created for more than just work; we were created for communion with the living God. We need to step away from what is pressing and important so we can focus on what is most important. We need to remind ourselves that our own efforts accomplish little if anything without the power and blessing of God. Worship may seem to be a waste of time, but, borrowing Marva Dawn’s wonderful phrase, it is a “royal waste of time” in the presence of a holy God.
Corporate assemblies, as well as family and personal devotions, usually come to mind when we think about worship. During these special times we encounter the living God, encourage one another, and are shaped by God’s Spirit. Reading and reflecting on scripture, praying, and singing are means by which God speaks to us, and we speak to God. These rich, ancient practices facilitate ongoing fellowship between God and God’s people.
In the Lord’s Supper we share table fellowship with God through our risen Lord, we celebrate what God has done for our salvation, and we anticipate the feast to come in the new creation. Whenever we give with generous hearts, we acknowledge that God, not wealth or material things, is our first priority and source of security.
In worship God comes to us with words of grace and healing, but also with words of judgment and warning. At the same time, we come to God with praise, honor, and thanksgiving, but we also can bare our souls to God and ask honest and difficult questions like those found in the lament psalms.
Furthermore, worship is not just something that occurs once a week or during set times. Worship is a way of life that encompasses everything we are and everything we do (Romans 12:1). In the entirety of our lives we seek to delight in God, honor God, and rely on God rather than our own strength.
The faculty, staff, and students of Harding School of Theology invite you to join us as we prayerfully reflect on our annual theme, “A Life of Worship.” More importantly, we invite you to join us as we worship a holy God and anticipate our Lord’s return, when God will dwell with his people and praise will resound eternally.
Mark E. Powell
Professor of Theology