Our good deeds point to the One whom we worship BY MAJOR RANDY C. HICKS
t should come as no surprise that more people participate in worship activities at Christmas than on other occasions. Whether it’s the traditional Christmas Eve candlelight service, Handel’s Messiah or a festive program put on by the Sunday school kids, people are drawn in to be a part of it all. To the non-religious, the idea of worship, at any time of the year, may seem antiquated. Then again, it is! For as long as humanity has been recording its existence you will find evidence of the search for the divine—something or someone greater than us—at sacred or holy grounds, shrines, temples and, in more recent centuries, churches and mosques. Christians believe that the Divine searches for us. We believe that God cre-
ated us and wants what is best for us. We believe that the ultimate demonstration of his love for us is expressed in what we call the Incarnation, God becoming one of us through his Son. Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph in the tiny village of Bethlehem, upstaging God-adoring angels and curiously reverent shepherds, and later joined by gift-giving Wise Men. The world still commemorates the event we call Christmas. We believe that Jesus reconnects us to God in the experience known as salvation, and this relationship greatly enables and enhances our worship experience. Adoration, reverence and gift giving are all elements of worship. In its simplest form, to worship is to ascribe worth or value to something or someone—worth-ship!
My Salvation Army worship experience has involved congregational and special music, Bible reading, spoken testimonials, prayer and preaching. Many of these elements can be found in an Army meeting anywhere in the world, as well as in practically any Christian church. Although the word “worship” is generally reserved to describe sacred practice on the part of a congregation or individual, the Army has also seen the value of worshipping through social interaction and mission in our communities. We are not the originators of this understanding, nor are we alone in this belief. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world ... let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:14, 16 NLT). Echoes of the belief that worship expresses itself in mission are found in numerous sources and teachings throughout church history. In Secondhand Jesus, Glenn Packiam writes: “Worship plays out in our lives, beyond the worship service, in how we live. To really grasp the relationship that is offered to us in Christ, we must think of the Christian life not as work, but as worship. Worship is the language of love, and it is the only way to respond to the love we have been shown.” In Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace, James B. Torrance speaks of worship and mission of the church as the gift of participating through the Holy Spirit in the incarnate Son’s communion with the Father and the Son’s mission from the Father to the world. Worship and mission are gifts from the Spirit to enable us to participate in kingdom life. It’s Christmastime! Salvation Army “light shining” is at the forefront of what we do this season. As you minister to others through carolling, kettles, hampers, toys, concerts, turkey dinners and pageants, remember that you are sharing the gift of love—worship (heart to God) and mission (hand to man). Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of goodwill. We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, We give you thanks for your great glory. —Gloria in Excelsis Deo Major Randy C. Hicks is the corps officer at North York Temple in the Ontario Central-East Division. Salvationist I December 2013 I 29