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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Whole Life Worship: Worship and Waiting

After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. […] Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

LUKE 2:46, 51-52

In the year 2020 we have all become unwilling experts in waiting. We wait for the right to see friends, or for a vaccine to become a reality, or to return to the office. For many Christians, the waiting and the longing is about being able to meet together again.

But even then, there is still a sense of waiting for the time when we can share a cup together again, join our voices in song, and lay a caring hand on someone’s shoulder to pray. Despite our best efforts with online services and socially-distanced gatherings, we are hungry for a return to physical, embodied worship together.

Although some may have become frustrated with this enforced waiting, there’s little we can do about it. But we can control how we wait in these days.

Scripture has little to say about Jesus’ life before the age of 30. Only Luke tells the story of a 12-year-old Jesus, lost by upset parents. He then adds just a few words to sum up the next two decades of Jesus’ life. God incarnate entered into our experience of waiting, not for a year’s lockdown, but for more than 90 per cent of his earthly life.

Does that mean that 90% was unimportant? No. Growing in wisdom takes time. The work of God in the waiting is not a quick job. As Jesus willingly entered into the painfully slow process of growing up, from newborn to adult, so we can also enter into the slow process of growth God takes us through.

What does God want to do in you during this slow period? What does it mean for you to worship God in the waiting of 2020? The shape of worship in this time may look different to how we have worshipped before. Less singing ‘Hallelujah!’ and more praying ‘How long, O Lord?’ Less rushing and more being still.

If we allow God to teach us, we may also learn to worship with our whole lives. We can’t sing together on Sunday, but we can speak truth on Monday. We can’t put money on the offering plate at church, but we can choose to invest ethically. Perhaps this season of waiting will be a time in which God develops us into whole-life worshippers: people who, like Jesus, grow ‘in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and people’.

Sam & Sara Hargreaves
Sara and Sam run engageworship.org, providing training and resources for local church worship


Whole Life Worship: Worship and Creation (2/4)