Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Attitudes in Christian worship... #1 of 8

Adoration. Adoration is an acknowledgement of God's transcendence made possible by the fact that he is also self-giving. The original religious impulse to prostrate oneself upon the sudden appearance of the overwhelming Numen is ritualized into bows and genuflexions in the context of cultic repetition. In biblical religion, the experience of the mysterium tremendum et fascinosum has taken on a personal and ethical character. The Wholly Other has become the transcendent Creator: 'Come let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker' (Psalm 95:6). If he inspires fear, it is on account of his power and purity; if he attracts it is by his creating love and redeeming grace. If the creature feels fear, it is on account of his own weakness and sin; if he is drawn toward God, it is because the love that made him will not let him go: 'Thou hast made us for thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in thee.' We can go farther: God's power shows grace to transform the sinner. Love casts out fear: Christians are no longer craven slaves but have become sons and daughters. Whether in power and purity or in love and grace, worshippers can do no more than tautologously ascribe 'holiness' to him. When in the liturgy we cry 'Holy, holy, holy,' we say that we are joining our voices to the ceaseless songs of the angelic hosts. That is further symbolic recognition of God's transcendence. His majesty is sometimes indirectly indicated by the description of his entourage of heavenly beings....
The language of adoration pays homage to the surpassing majesty of God and sings his amazing love for his creatures and his unexampled grace for sinners. At times, adoration will pass over the linguistic horizon into silence. Even that silence is directed toward God, and it is qualified by what the stammering tongue has been straining to say.
Geoffery Wainwright, Doxology: The Praise of God in Worship, Doctrine, and Life

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