I’ve finally finished “Engaging with God” by David Peterson. It was not so much a difficult read as it was difficult to find the time to read in the midst of so much busyness this year. I highly recommend it to any other liturgical musicians like myself. The book is a study in worship from the perspective of biblical theology. Peterson’s general thesis can be summed up with this sentence:
Revelation and redemption are the basis of authentic worship in biblical thinking. pg 284
Revelation means that we can only worship the Lord because he has graciously revealed himself to us. We can’t worship that which is not known. The Lord’s revelation began through the covenant relationship with the Israelites in the Old Testament and it was fully realized in the revelation of his Son, Jesus, in the flesh and through the internal dwelling of his Spirit. No amount of reason, meditation or cultic practices can get us any closer to the Creator without his graciously drawing near to us.
Redemption means that if the Lord has revealed himself to us, we are still in a state of unworthiness before him. Like the prophet Isaiah, in the presence of the Lord, we can only declare that we have “unclean lips”. No one can come before the Lord and experience his holiness without exposing ourselves to his just wrath. Yet, once again by grace, we have be redeemed. In the Old Testament, the Lord graciously received sacrifices that represented atonement for sin. He invented this system in order to give us some way to be acceptable in worship. In the New Testament, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and the Great High Priest who offers that blood as atonement before the Father. The followers of Jesus become the new temple, the new Jerusalem, and the new priesthood. Instead of destroying his fallen, rebellious children, the Lord has made a living Way by which we can draw near to the throne of mercy.
So, in worship this weekend, I encourage you to ask the Lord to reveal himself to you though the message of the songs, the teaching of Word, and the expression of his glory in the church and in his creation. Behold the glory of God because He has graciously revealed himself to his people. You don’t have to be concerned with “getting your heart in the right place” or with whether the band plays “good worship” or pastor preaches a “good sermon”. Rather, pray for the Spirit to open your eyes to see the glory of the Lord revealed. Then, eat and drink the blood and body of Christ. Receive the gracious redemption of the Lamb of God. There is no sin too great or mess too large for the power of the blood to redeem. As the Spirit reveals himself and the blood of Christ is applied, you will enter into authentic worship and be filled with praise and adoration and join with the angels, the creation and the church as they gather before the throne and worship the Ancient of Days.