(A review of the book, “With Reverence and Awe, Returning to the Basics of Reformed Worship” by D. G. Hart and John R. Muether. Remember that in conjunction with our Wednesday night study, I am using this book and the principles taught in it to aid us in a study of worship.)
Chapter 4: The Holy Day of Worship
In this chapter, Hart and Meuther ask why Sabbath-keeping, which was universally accepted from roughly 1776 to 1960, has virtually disappeared today. They give some answers, such as the rise of sports and leisure activities that have taken over the weekend. Or, the marketing of the Church, where Churches offer seven day a week activities, and Sunday worship simply becomes one of the options. Or, even the rise of revivalism in America, where we look for spiritual mountaintop experiences for our spiritual growth, rather than the normal and ordinary means of grace that God has given to us.
“God’s intention was to bless his people through the constant and conscientious observation of the day, week after week and year after year. Believers are sanctified through a lifetime of Sabbath observance. In other words, the Sabbath is designed to work slowly, quietly, seemingly imperceptively in reorienting believers’ appetites heavenward. It is not a quick fix, nor is it necessarily a spiritual high. It is an “outward and ordinary” ordinance (WSC 88), part of the steady and healthy diet of the means of grace.” (Hart and Meuther)
As we gather for worship week in and week out, God uses it to change us, to mold us into the image of Christ. After being inundated with the world for six days of the week, we need to have our appetites turned heavenward and we need this “oasis in the desert”.
“In contrast, the Sabbath is supposed to be a discipline that provides an oasis in the desert for pilgrims, whose life is marked by suffering. Unlike the church activities that clutter the rest of the week, the Sabbath is when believers spiritually assemble on Mount Zion to meet with their God, to hear him speak, and to partake spiritually of their Savior’s body and blood.” (Hart and Meuther).
Tithing and the stewardship of our money is not to merely state that ten-percent of our possessions belong to God, but instead all that we possess is the Lord’s and a gift from Him. In the same way, the Lord’s Day is a reflection that not just one day in seven is set aside to God, but all of our days are to be used in his service. The Lord’s Supper is not a common meal but one set apart by Christ. The Lord’s Day is not a common day, but one set apart for the “public and private exercises of the worship of God.”
Do we consider worship holy? Do we really consider it a holy activity? “…that in worship we assemble with all the saints and angels before the throne of God, a place that is none other than the holy of holies.”
If we really consider our worship a time when we gather with the saints of God before the throne of God, what does that have to say about our respect for God when it comes to our attendance? Our punctuality? Our reverence? Do we truly treat what happens at 11am and 6pm each Sunday as Holy? If we did, wouldn’t Christians be lining up early in order to spend time with the Lord and His people?
Are we able any longer in our modern world to distinguish between the Holy and the profane?
“Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things; they have made no distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they hide their eyes from my Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.” (Ezek. 22:26)