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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

ON WORSHIP
(Part 2)

ATTENDING A BANQUET

As the people of God, we come together in communal worship. This is something that is very much a part of our community life. We almost always start our meetings, assemblies and conferences with worship. Many times our worship sets the tone for the rest of the meeting. And rightly so. God called us, He brought us together, He sends us forth, He is in the midst of His people, and so we start by acknowledging Him for who He is, our God and King. Thus we worship.

But worship is not only what we “do” for God. It is also what He does for us. Consider what David said in one of his psalms.

“My soul shall savor the rich banquet of praise, with joyous lips my mouth shall honor you!” (Ps 63:6)

David describes worship as a “rich banquet.” This is very significant.

What is a banquet?

A banquet is a great feast. It is a filling and fulfilling occasion. It is characterized by celebration and great joy.

A banquet suggests lots of food and merriment. You can have your fill. Indeed you have to watch it because you are being tempted to overeat.

A banquet is usually given by a person of importance, who invites those who are important to him. A banquet is often extravagant, showcasing the stature and means of the one giving it, and it accords great honor to those who are deserving of an invitation.

God’s banquet

Now God invites us to a rich banquet, to a great feast, whenever we worship.

Our host is the Lord Himself. Being the King of kings, He is the greatest of all. Owning the whole universe, He is the richest of all. Being God, it is our great honor to be invited into His presence.

What happens during worship? We enter into God’s holy presence, and He pours out His bountiful graces upon us. “Happy the chosen ones you bring to dwell in your courts. May we be filled with the good things of your house, the blessings of your holy temple!” (Ps 65:5).

When we worship, God leads us to a veritable smorgasbord of blessings, and showers us with all good things ­ a deeper faith, wisdom, consolation, strength, healing, reconciliation, forgiveness, transformation in Christ, perseverance, faithfulness, holiness. It is all there for the taking. God fills our hearts, raises our spirits and touches the very depths of our souls. God enriches our spiritual lives.

This is particularly significant because we come from outside, from a world that is in darkness, from the poverty of our own souls. We are thirsty and hungry. “For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, like a land parched, lifeless, and without water.” (Ps 63:2). We have been crawling, greatly weakened, through the desert, and now we have come to the oasis. Suddenly we are faced with the richest and choicest foods, and with the finest wines. We have arrived at the feast.

And when we have had our fill and the banquet is over, God is not done. He gives each one a doggie bag so that we can take out and take home more of the goodies. He continues to fill us so that we can become holy. He equips us for the work that we are to do in the world.

Our response

If an important person invited you to a banquet, how would you react? You would be greatly honored and you would look forward to it, perhaps thinking of nothing else in the meantime.

Now God Himself invites us. We are His honored guests, being His beloved people. He lays out the banquet table, filling it will all good things of His house.

We must realize what God is doing, and what a great honor and privilege it is for mere mortals such as us to be ushered into the presence of the Almighty. We must be filled with great joy. We must look forward to the occasion with anticipation and eagerness and awe. We must exclaim in our hearts: “O God, you are my God – for you I long!” (Ps 63:2a).

And we must prepare ourselves. We must be properly attired ­ with reverence and humility, with great respect for our Lord, with full expectation of what we are to receive at His hands. One important thing: do not be late. Do not dishonor the Host by arriving when He is already seated at the head table. Do not risk the doors of the banquet hall being closed on you.

The banquet of praise

How do we partake of this banquet of praise? In a banquet we put food into our mouths to satisfy ourselves. In worship we use our mouths to praise God, to satisfy Him by giving Him the honor and glory that is His due. “My lips offer you worship! …. with joyous lips my mouth shall honor you!” (Ps 63:4b,6b). It is not about what goes into our mouths, but what goes out from our mouths. And what comes from our mouths ought to reflect what is in our hearts. “For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Mt 12:34b). The gratitude and great joy that fills our hearts pour forth from our mouths in exultant praise.

So our focus is not on the goodies we can get from God, but is just on God Himself. But we know that as we focus on God and worship Him, God will bountifully pour out His graces and blessings upon us. We worship in order to honor God, but in worship we have come into a rich banquet, and God will not fail in filling us.

The love of God

God invites us to His banquet out of His great love for us, so that He can bless us and fill us with good things. We enter with our souls thirsty and our lives parched, but in the banquet we are filled, and we begin to experience life in its abundance. But what really is the treasure of the banquet, the piece de resistance, is the very love of God. The banquet is all about God’s love for us.

We come into the banquet dead or dying in the world, we are revived in the banquet and receive life, but more than life itself, we experience the great love of God for us. “For your love is better than life” (Ps 63:4a). It is a movement from death to life to the very love of God. It just gets better and better.

Let us worship

It is a great blessing for us that God allows us in His holy presence to give Him praise and worship. It is something that we must greatly desire to do, realizing what a great privilege it truly is.

But here is a secret: it is not only you who looks forward to the rich banquet. It is God Himself who is more eager to see you, and expectantly awaits your presence.

So let us worship, with our whole being­with mind and heart, with body and soul. Let us partake fully of the spiritual food that is laid out at God’s banquet table.

(April 30, 2009)

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