March 22, 2011


"The time is coming, and now is, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth." There is much more to say about those two criteria: spirit and truth, but today I'm focused on the activity of worship.

In some churches worship means to sing. The "worship leader" is the lead singer in the praise band or the choirmaster. In some churches worship requires a spiritual (some say, emotional) response as manifested in hand waving, tongue speaking, dancing, tears streaming, etc. In some churches worship is staid and rote: we do this and then this and then this and then we eat. In some churches worship is the only thing they do.

But this word, worship, which shows up, in one form or another, 9 times in 5 verses during Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, is more than music, more than rote responses. It is even more than a Pentecost-like experience.

Proskuneo - the Greek root word translated as worship - is not about music or words, but about posture and attitude.

Freiburg - 1) to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence 2) among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence 3) in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication 3a) used of homage shown to men and beings of superior rank 3a1) to the Jewish high priests 3a2) to God 3a3) to Christ 3a4) to heavenly beings 3a5) to demons

UBS Short - worship; fall down and worship, kneel, bow low, fall at another's feet

UBS Full - (1) from a basic sense bow down to kiss someone's feet, garment hem, or the ground in front of him; (2) in the NT of worship or veneration of a divine or supposedly divine object, expressed concretely with falling face down in front of someone worship, venerate, do obeisance to; (a) toward God (MT 4.10); (b) toward Jesus (MT 2.2); (c) toward the devil and demons (MT 4.9; RV 9.20); (d) toward idols (AC 7.43); (e) toward human beings as given or claiming to have divine power or authority (RV 3.9; 13.4b)

Louw-Nida - to express by attitude and possibly by position one's allegiance to and regard for deity - 'to prostrate oneself in worship, to bow down and worship, to worship.'

When was the last time your worship involved lying prostrate on the ground before the awesome presence of the Lord God Almighty? How often does your attitude portray your allegiance to God? Do you venerate the Father in Heaven?

Or is your worship directed toward your worship? Is it all about the flowery language of the Book of Common Prayer? Is is all about the amazing music? Is it all about the powerful personality of the preacher? Is it all about something other than the Divine? If so, perhaps a return to lying face down is in order. Until, that is, God, by his grace, invites you stand up and bask in the glow of his loving kindness.

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