Over the year or so, I have been pondering the meaning, mechanism and object of worship.
At the outset, I confess that I don't have a very firm grasp of this concept. I barely have an inkling what it might mean to worship God.
One might think that turning to the weekly worship services of Priesthood, Sunday School, and Sacrament meeting might give some clues, but when Sunday after Sunday goes by with barely a mention of Jesus of Nazareth, or His great atonement, I am less and less confident that an answer can be found there.
Hugh Nibley once observed,
...Latter-day Saints...[give] their young people and old awards for zeal alone, zeal without knowledge--for sitting in endless meetings, for dedicated conformity, and unlimited capacity for suffering boredom.
–Hugh Nibley, Zeal without Knowledge
Sadly, this hits too close to home in describing most of our Sunday services as Latter-day Saints. We find unprepared teachers, unprepared students, endless boredom and unnourishing lessons.
Whatever it means to worship, if our Sunday meetings are filled with the above, can we really call it worship?
Joseph Smith said,
How vain and trifling have been our spirits, our conferences, our councils, our meetings, our private as well as public conversations—too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending for the dignified characters of the called and chosen of God, according to the purposes of His will, from before the foundation of the world! We are called to hold the keys of the mysteries of those things that have been kept hid from the foundation of the world until now.
-TPJS, p 137
As a Sunday School teacher, these quotes haunt me, I have a great responsibility to not only teach the truth, but to help guide the classroom experience into one that is worshipful.
But, what does it mean to worship? How can I guide a classroom to something I don't understand?
The scriptures don't give a strict definition of what it means to worship. They generally talk about how we need to approach worship, such as:
- Worship the Father in the name of Christ (2 Ne 25:16, Jacob 4:5)
- Worship Christ with all your might, mind and strength, with your whole soul (2 Ne 25:29)
- Worship in whatsoever place ye may be (Alma 34:38)
- Worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24)
- Fall at the feet of Jesus to worship (3 Nephi 11:17)
Perhaps the most interesting passage from the scriptures to me comes from D&C 93, which after giving an excerpt from the writings of John, says in verse 19, "I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship."
Go read that section, from verse 1-40 with the idea that it is teaching us how and what we worship.
Go ahead, I'll wait.
What is the point of our worship? Why do we do it? I think the end of v19 provides the most direct answer:
that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness.
How do we do it? If that is the end of our worship, should the act of worshiping lead us to that end?
20 For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.
21 And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn;
22 And all those who are begotten through me are partakers of the glory of the same, and are the church of the Firstborn.
Keep his commandments, receive grace for grace, receive of the fullness of the Father. Become a member of the church of the Firstborn.
Much more to ponder here.