A Vision Of Worship

By 26th April 2020Reflections

‘The four living creatures said Amen and the Elders fell down and worshipped…’ (Rev. 5:14)

Read Revelation 5:1-14

The scene for today’s reading actually begins in the previous chapter as John sees a door open into Heaven. And in a sense what John is really saying is that this scene reveals what reality is like in the Eternal Kingdom of God. John looks and sees that the throne of God is surrounded by twenty four Elders with golden crowns on their heads, possibly reminders of the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles of Jesus. Also around the throne are four living creatures. One like a lion, one like an ox, one like a human being and one like an eagle, which symbolise wild animals, domesticated animals, humanity and the birds of the air. In essence, all of God’s created beings. Then john sees a scroll sealed with 7 seals and an Angel comes forward to ask the question. Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?

But no-one can be found until a lamb appears. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world – and He takes the scroll.

This revelation of the one who is worthy to open the scroll leads to great jubilation and joy in heaven and leads John to describe some of these joyous scenes, including the songs of the angels. And in response to this praise the four living creatures all shout Amen and the twenty four Elders fell down and worshipped………………………The 24 elders fell down and worshipped……

The book of Revelation is often referred to as the book of worship in the bible. Yes, there are many graphic passages in Revelation that grab our attention because they seem to say so much about the battle between good and evil. But if we take a closer look we see that the dominant theme which ties all of these parts of the book of Revelation together is worship.

If we were to be asked why we place such high importance on worship we might talk about a sense of awe and wonder of the majesty of God. We might talk about connecting with history and tradition, about grounding, silence in prayer, fellowship and music. And every single one of these is a good reason to value worship. But in scenes like this from Revelation we are essentially given a new vision of worship, almost, if you like, an Easter vision.

Just imagine if you can, as we listen to the Elders, to the four living creatures and to the myriad of Angelic voices praising God – what do we actually hear? We hear other voices in heaven, on earth, under the earth; all creatures coming together and joining in the worship of the Lamb of God – of Jesus Christ Himself. In other words…we learn that worship is the future to which we are headed…

When we worship we are, in a sense, living in God’s future as it is God who calls us forward to worship. Likewise, it is God who forms us through worship, practising unity, compassion, mercy, forgiveness and love. And it is God who scatters us from worship, to live as representatives of Jesus Christ in the world today – to be His witnesses. So in essence we are called together for worship, we are transformed by worship and we are sent by worship – or at least, we should be. But how does worship accomplish this glorious work of unifying all creation in praise of Jesus Christ?

Throughout the book of Revelation worship is spoken of in Trinitarian language, of God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But perhaps another way of thinking of this in a Trinitarian way, to help our understanding, is of God as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. So when our worship is focussed on God in this way our lives are given great strength and a sense of eternal purpose. In verse 12 of our passage we are told that all of Heaven sings. Often when we listen to someone else sing we can remain a passive, detached observer. But as soon as we begin to sing ourselves we become part of the song and the song becomes part of us – gradually transforming us from within. When we begin to sing words of praise from deep within our hearts and souls, when we allow them to become more than the words which come from our mouths, something happens to us as we begin to sense a real presence of the Lord.

In our world today the term worship is used in all kinds of ways. For example, to worship is to focus our lives on someone or something. But true worship goes way beyond respecting and appreciating someone or something and can actually become dangerous when what we are worshipping is not the Triune God. But when we take our place in this Easter vision of worship, when we join this Trinitarian worship described in Revelation. When we unite our voices with the twenty four Elders, the four living creatures, the myriad of Angelic voices and all of creation…..Then we too become part of God’s future…

 

Lord, in these troubled days when we are not able to gather in fellowship and worship as we would wish, help us nevertheless to be aware of Your continued presence with us and enable us to worship You as one in Spirit. We thank You for all Your many blessings and ask that You would guide and keep us over the coming days and hold our loved ones close to You. Be also with those who are giving so much of themselves in looking after the sick and the vulnerable at this time and those whose work and service in our communities is helping to maintain some form of normality in our lives. Encompass all in Your tender loving care and help us to draw close to You each and every day. And all this we ask in Jesus name.

 

Sunday Evening – National Call To Prayer

As has been the case over the past few weeks, the leaders of all Churches have come together to call us to prayer at 7.00pm this Sunday evening. Underneath is a prayer by the leaders of all churches that could be used to begin this time of prayer. The full statement can be found on the Church of Scotland website where it also lists all those leaders whom signed that statement.

Lord, we are those who journey
And who find that journey hard today.
We are those who journey
And long to find our hope renewed.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, whether in our own company or with companions beside us,
We journey on.
Whether sure, or unsure, as to our journey’s end,
Come beside us through the risen Lord.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for others;
For carers of the living and of the dying;
For the bereaved and for the anxious;
For those fearing loss of work and of business.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for scientists and researchers;
For those seeking to understand the challenge we face;
For those creating potential vaccines;
For those advising decision-makers.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for those who shape our common life:
In local Councils and in Scottish Government
And in the Government of the United Kingdom.
Grant to them wisdom, compassion and understanding.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for your Kingdom to come
And for your will to be done,
On earth
As it is in heaven.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.