Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. [Hebrews 12:28 (NLT)]
In the New Testament, the Greek word commonly translated as “worship” is proskyneō. While it came to mean kneeling down, prostrating oneself, showing reverence toward, and worshiping, its roots are thought-provoking. Coming from the Greek pro (to or toward) and kyneō (to kiss), its literal meaning is “to kiss towards!” Knowing his Greek, a pastor said of proskyneō: ”I like to think of our worship in church as being sons and daughters of God blowing kisses to our Father.” I thought of his words when I welcomed the kisses my children and grands blew to me on our recent Zoom call.
The way we worship has changed drastically since March. For some people, it involves sitting in their cars in the church parking lot, tuning their radios to a specific station, and drive-by communion. For others, worship requires reservations, temperature checks, face masks, assigned seats, roped off pews, and restrictions on singing. Many of us, however, find church on the screen of our computers, tablets, smart phones, or TV. Our worship is virtual.
The live streaming from most churches really isn’t “live.” Having found that wide shots of the sanctuary and recreating the traditional Sunday service doesn’t transfer well to a small screen, many churches now pre-record. Early in the week, the pastor videos his part at home or in the empty church. At a different time, the worship leader and musicians video their parts, often from different locations. The tech team then pieces together the separate recordings and adds words for the songs and relevant Bible verses before posting the now cohesive video to their chosen platform. There’s a good chance that, even though the pastor “led” the worship service, even he doesn’t know what the finished product looks like until it is streamed on Sunday. That’s the case for a pastor I know who watches worship service with the rest of his congregation when it goes live on Sunday mornings.
This pastor mentioned getting an email from one of his parishioners thanking him for the inspiring on-line services. After telling her pastor that she still rises early Sunday mornings so she can get dressed and do her make-up and hair, the woman said she sets up her home “pew” with a lit candle and a Bible (so she can follow along during the lessons). Adding that she always stands for the Creed, Gospel and hymns, the woman said it almost feels like she’s worshiping inside the church! Hers were words of conviction for the pastor who reluctantly admitted to being unshaven and still in his pj’s while sitting on the sofa, feet resting on the coffee table, drinking coffee and eating a Danish as he views the service on his television. After confessing that the only time he stands is to get another cup of coffee from the kitchen, he realized he was watching rather than worshiping.
It’s not easy to stay engaged while worshiping on-line. People who normally wouldn’t talk during music now chat on-line during worship songs. I wouldn’t think of checking my phone, texting, or getting up for coffee during the sermon, but I did it during last week’s virtual worship! We don’t have to put on make-up or wear our Sunday best to worship in this COVID world but we might want to examine our worship behavior. The Essential Bible Dictionary defines worship as, “The honor, reverence, and homage that we should pay to God for his perfection, greatness, and goodness.” Does our worship reflect our love, respect, gratitude, dedication, and deference to God? Whether we’re worshiping in a kitchen, car, park, or pew, may our worship be so reverent, single-minded, and heartfelt that God receives it with the same joy a grandma would when her children and grands blow her kisses!