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The Drama of Worship
Topic Started: Feb 24 2010, 01:20 AM (1,410 Views)
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Resident Rebbi

I was reading in one of my favorite books on worship, Worship God by Ernest B. Gentile, copyright 1994 by Bible Temple Publishing in Portland, Oregon. I use it as a reference book, occasionally as a devotional, sometimes just as personal encouragement. He regularly exhorts me in my worship and praise life. (Available used on Amazon for under $4 plus shipping; the charts alone are worth the $$.)

On page 79 of that book, there is a wonderful chart entitled "The Drama of Worship". I've taught for years that worship is a human reaction to God and His actions in our lives. Gentile's illustration really sums it up. God initiates, we respond. That little formula is the building block in worship and in our Christian walk. To a sensitive, ready soul, God points out sin, I confess it. He forgives it, I express my thanks for the onus being removed. God loves me, I love Him back. God reminds us of a prayer need and we pray. He answers, again we give thanks both for the answer and for His willingness to use our vessels of clay. Call and response. Isn't that what life in Christ is about?

It is a drama. God has written a grand script for countless stages, for countless individuals, for countless "acts" in each individual story. We use drama in so many ways--the drama of everyday life, the drama of serious life situations like health crises or working through financial woes. Drama. Instead of protagonist and antagonist, this drama has a benefactor and a respondent. Great concept, IMO.

Think about the implications. Employ and enjoy those implications. The drama is really the dialogue between God and believer. And someone else said it's really the dance of the ages. God invites us onto the dance floor. We can accept or not. It's that pesky "free will" thing. Will we dance or not? Will we react to God's instigation? My last entry dealt with dance and the broken heart. This drama is very similar, really, yet another analogy to explore how we can encourage believers to engage with God. As a Christian in a liturgical tradition, I see the invitation every Sunday. I hear it in the liturgy. I see it in the Eucharist itself. Even walking into the worship space, I'm struck by the sight of a crucifix, with Christ's welcoming arms open wide, inviting me to ponder the mystery of His willingness to die on my behalf. He invites, I respond. He saves, I worship!

Gentile's diagram is an amazing thing. If I can get permission to reproduce it, I will. It is displayed as a 12 point ping-pong pattern. God instigates, I respond. At each level, I grow, God responds to my respond by adding another aspect. I respond by growing closer to him and growing healthier and healthier. His twelfth point is that "man is now a restored, refreshed, commissioned person" who leaves the "encounter with God rejoicing and celebrating."

Such a deal! I respond to His love by bringing to the floor a life that's broken and doesn't work. He heals even the reluctant volunteer, equips and "commissions" me to be an icon of what He is willing and able to do with a fallen human. When people see the changes He makes, they often ask how the changes came to pass. I get to tell them that the "how" is a He. Powerful stuff!

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