I like to keep things simple. The simpler the better, especially these days when for me just getting up and ready for work takes monumental effort.
My brain seems to be needing a vacation lately. I start to get ideas, and try to write them down so they make sense, but it doesn't always work out somehow. But I will give it a try......
Has anyone heard of "Red Mountain Music"? They take old hymns and set them to modern arrangements. Kind of a bit country/twangy/bluegrass, but the result is terrific, imho. I had two of their cd's, but I think they are out on loan right now. Thankfully, I made a tape so I could listen to them in my car (just a tape deck there). OK, here is the link if you want to have a listen:
One of the songs is called "Jesus Whispers". A line that really grabbed my attention is "When we live on Jesus' merit, then we worship God a'right." I really like that. It makes it simple. Living on Jesus' merit, in His righteousness and not our own. That gives the proper foundation for true worship.
There is so much written about "worship"; what it means, how to do it. Jesus said that the day was coming, and was now here, that we would not worship God in any particular place, but instead we would worship Him in spirit and in truth, "for such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers." (John 4:23) That seems pretty simple to me. I think it means that we are not to worship in certain places, like temples and such, but that our worship should go beyond buildings and ceremonies and services.
I'm still trying to nail down the "spirit and truth" part. But my inclination is to translate that to mean our worship can now go beyond rituals and encompass our entire life. Being born again, we have a new, made-alive spirit. One that was once dead in trespasses and sins. Being in Christ, being in union with Him, brings us into a real, living relationship with the one true God.
Following Christ is not like any other "religion". We worship a true and living God. We don't just "go through the motions" of worship, the way worshippers of other "gods" do. Their worship is dead. Useless. Pointless. Our worship, our giving God His worth in our thoughts, words, and deeds, is living. It's real. It comes from changed hearts and changed lives.
Our "place of worship" is at the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ. From there, we look to Him, and see the gospel of grace. We see ourselves as having no righteousness of our own, but see Him as having all righteousness. We acknowledge our need of Him, and realize God's love and grace as given through Him. Our worship is from a grateful heart, a humbled heart, a heart that loves because we are loved. How different from worshipping dead idols out of fear, and forever trying to appease them with works and sacrifices. How different from going to temples day after day, bowing down before graven images, and going through countless rituals born of ignorance and superstition. Man made rituals meant to somehow give a righteousness that we can never have.
I want my whole life to be one of worship. Yes, it is a true blessing to be with brothers and sisters, praying and singing and praising God together. But to be honest, I don't miss that part of "church" very much. I look back at it now, and see myself as taking part in what I believed to be real worship. And I know the potential was there for that to happen. Yet so many times I was simply going through the motions. I was so very much aware of how I looked, how I acted, how I sang. I was very much aware of how others looked, acted, and sang. I had expectations of those meetings, and of myself and others as we gathered for them. I think a lot of them were wrong expectations.
Because so much emphasis was placed on being there, I came to view those times as the pinnacle of my Christian experience. Being in that building, during those times, should have brought me closer to God. It was "God's house", after all. It was "the Lord's Day" as well. I was doing what every other obedient, sincere Christ follower was doing. I was in His house on His day, to "worship" Him. I owed Him at least that much. How selfish it would have been to stay in bed, and forgo that assembling together. How guilty I felt if I missed a meeting. How I admonished myself if my thoughts wandered, or I judged my heart to be "cold" during the meeting.
I learned a lot there. I loved the words of the hymns and choruses. I think I sometimes "felt" God's presence. But many times I felt the way I used to feel after going to Mass in the Catholic church. Like I had done my duty. I had done at least the bare minimum that a "good" Christian should do. I showed up for meeting. And by doing that, I reassured others that I was doing alright spiritually. Because if you started to miss meetings, then that must certainly mean you weren't doing well in your walk with the Lord. Never mind what you might be up to the rest of the week, even if you went to church on Sundays.
When I think about it all now, it seems to me that we are still clinging to old ways in our worship. We have kept the buildings, rituals, the traditions. We have narrowed it all down to a certain time slot. It is so unlike what the early Christians did. Their lives were connected to each other, and to Christ, in faith, in spirit and in truth. They didn't need all the fuss and muss. They didn't depend on pastors or programs, pianos or pews. They lived their life in Christ every day of the week, and saw Him in each other. It was pretty simple, I think. That's what I want.
(Hope this makes some sense)