Holy Week and a Worship-Formed Life

This Sunday, Palm Sunday, we begin a time in the church calendar referred to as “Holy Week.” Now, this week is really not any “holier” than any other week of the year. Jesus is Lord over all days and weeks, and through his kingship every day bears a weight of glory that will see fulfillment in holiness with the life to come.

At the same time, we also acknowledge the necessity for people to have rhythms to life and worship— this is one of the very reasons why the Scriptures give us a patterned flow to our worship which we seek to emulate in our own Sunday liturgies.

This worship rhythm also extends to our daily and weekly routines as well as our seasonal and annual routines. A lifestyle of worship is really a lifestyle shaped by the relational and doxological flow we see in the liturgy of the church. Seeing our lives conformed to the heart of God as he’s revealed through the Word applied by the Spirit, means seeing our very lives shaped according to our pattern of worship:

  1. God seeks us, we respond to him in praise and adoration
  2. He reveals our struggles and sin and reminds us of the accomplished work of the Son in the gospel
  3. We respond through confession and thanksgiving, experiencing the Father’s embrace through this regular act of reconciliation
  4. He shapes our minds, hearts, and wills through Jesus present with us in his Word
  5. He nourishes us in grace through Jesus present with us in the sacrament and through the Spirit’s ministry through one another
  6. He sends us out in mission and lifestyles of worship in our vocations under the kingship of Jesus and in the power of his Spirit to continue God’s redemption in the world

This pattern of worship ought not to simply mark our Sunday worship services, this is a pattern which our entire lives conform to and are shaped by through a liturgical lifestyle. We are fundamentally worshiping creatures, and so at the very core of who we are, we are formed by some sort of pattern of worship and the object of our worship. We follow the liturgical narrative above because it is the very narrative that is presented to us in the Scriptures, and is the true meta-narrative that makes sense of the way things actually are in God’s creation, and the way things ought to be under the kingship of Jesus.

This rhythm of worship-in-life also challenges our natural tendency toward narcissism: “my life is about me.” The Redemptive-Historical story of the Bible, and the liturgy shaped by it, repeatedly insist that our life is not about us, life is about the Triune God— his glory, his rescue, his renewal, his presence with his people; all accomplished through his redemption of me as a member of his people, the church.

Worship is a continuing recapitulation and re-participation of these truths and of this drama. We are continually drawn back into God’s story, shaped by God’s hand, and made more aware of God’s presence in Christ through his indwelling Spirit.

Why do I write all of this?

Because we need to think about worship. What it is. What the purpose of it is. Where it points us. How this is a delight and a discipline God calls his people to enact regularly as the core of our life together. Especially as the church I serve approaches our 1-year birthday as a worshiping congregation, and as we all approach the week of remembrance of the Passion of Jesus, we must keep God’s pattern and intent for worship as a priority in our personal and communal life.

So, a week such as this coming week is an important place-marker in lives customarily marked by busyness, frenetic pace, activities, demands, a lack of silence and space for contemplation of our God. What would it mean for you to seek to make intentional space in your life this week to move through the rhythms of liturgy personally, with a small group, with your family, with your congregation?

Let’s contemplate the cross and resurrection of Jesus this week— the reason for this (the brokenness, sin, and rebellion of the world and our selves), the historic actions taken through these, God’s disclosure of his heart and fulfillment of his plan through this, the rescue and establishment of not just “me,” but of “me in the community of Christ’s church.”

Let’s worship the Redeemer this week, and celebrate our union with him through his work in the body he has redeemed- his church.