John 4:23–24 (NKJV)
23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
In the history of Christianity, one of the names used to identify the weekly public service of worship at which the congregation gathers is the Divine Service or the Lord’s Service. Unfortunately this title has fallen into disfavor. Today we almost exclusively use the term “worship” to describe our weekly gathering.
On one level, of course, to describe our weekly gatherings as worship is fitting. To worship God is to ascribe worth to Him – to announce that He is the Lord and Creator of all and is therefore worthy of all honor and glory and power. Each Lord’s Day we gather to worship the High and Exalted One, the One who has rescued and redeemed us from destruction. As Jesus says in our text today, we gather to worship God the Father in the Name of His Son and by the power of His Spirit. Worship is a great term.
But the term can obscure a fundamental reality of worship, a reality that we must beware obscuring and a reality to which Jesus points us today. We come each Lord’s Day, you have come today, to worship the Lord and to serve Him. So why have you come thus? Because, Jesus tells us, the Father has first sought you out. God brought you here. We worship the Lord as a response to His work in our lives. We love because He first loved us. We serve because He first served us.
And this is why calling our weekly corporate gathering the “Lord’s Service” is apropos. The title is intentionally ambiguous – is the “Lord’s Service” the Service of the Lord – worshiping Him and honoring Him and praising Him – or is it the “Lord’s Service”, the Lord’s Service of His people – calling us together, comforting us from His Word, feeding us at His Table? Biblically our gathering each Lord’s Day is both.
So when we gather each Lord’s Day are we gathering to serve the Lord? Absolutely. He is to be the object of our service. But not only is our weekly gathering the “Lord’s Service” in this sense – that the Lord is the object of our service – it is also called the “Lord’s Service” because preceding our service of God and all during that service, the Lord is serving us. God in His grace and mercy calls us to worship; He summons us here and grants us grace to worship and serve Him. And he feeds us throughout the service reminding us of His promises. When we gather each Lord’s Day we gather not just to serve the Lord but also to be served by Him.
Ought we not, therefore, to begin each Lord’s Day with gratitude and thankfulness? God has called us here; summoned us to enter into His presence and worship Him in Spirit and Truth. So how have you responded to His summons? Are you here with eager hearts and minds? Or are you here cloudy and disinterested, so worn from the cares of the week that you cannot serve Him well?
Reminded that God has sought us out and served us in order that we might serve Him, let us kneel and confess that we often respond to His work with ingratitude and indifference.