Tom Writes..

January 2018

This Month Tom writes...Rev.Tom Ringland

Worth-ship …

I’m told that the origin of the word WORSHIP comes from the contraction of ‘worth-ship’ – that is the ascription of worth to something or someone. Since they are ‘worthy’ we give them ‘worth’ – we give them ‘worth-ship’.

So it is, in the alternative vows for the Marriage service, before ever a bride says ‘for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love cherish and obey’, she has first heard her husband to be declare, ‘… to love, cherish and worship’. A bridegroom pledges to honour his wife as worthy of his greatest admiration and respect. And only once this has been declared, is the bride invited to respond.

I have to say it’s still a rare couple who opt for this alternative and the words ‘worship’ and ‘obey’ are usually omitted!

What does this add to our understanding of our worship of God? Almighty God must naturally have the ultimate worth imaginable – the creature must worship the Creator, and the message of the New Testament is that we are not only His by our creation but also by redemption. That is, once fallen, we have been recovered, and forgiven through the act of Jesus Christ. In giving worship, we therefore worship God as our Maker and our Saviour.

The heart of worship then, before we get to praise and thanksgiving, must involve our surrender to God as Lord.

Archbishop William Temple (d. 1944) wrote, “Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God. It is the quickening of the conscience by His holiness: the nourishment of the mind with His truth: the purifying of the imagination by His beauty: the opening of the heart to His love: the surrender of the will to His purpose, and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable – and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centredness which is original sin and the source of all actual sin”.

For the briefest summary of all, we turn to the first of the 107 questions and answers of the Westminster Shorter Catechism of 1647:

“What is the chief end of man?”

“The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him for ever!”

And from our hymnbooks:

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; bow down before him,

his glory proclaim; with gold of obedience, and incense of lowliness,

kneel and adore him: the Lord is his name!