Worship is Performative

The Holy Spirit in Worship (part 2)

In the churches I grew up in, the description of worship as a performance would have sent a shock of horror up peoples’ spines. The one thing that worship must not be is a performance. But this isn’t exactly true. Inasmuch as worship is something you *do*, it must be performed. What must be avoided is acting in such a way that draws attention to yourself.

Robert Webber, in his book *Worship Old and New* talks about the fact that Christianity, like Judaism, is a religion based in a particular, defining event. For Judaism, that defining event was the Exodus. For the Christian, our exodus is the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As a result, Christian worship concerns itself with remembrance (“Do this in remembrance of me”). The subject matter of our worship is the Gospel itself, and we worship by recapitulating the content of the gospel. In another of his books, *Worship is a Verb*, Webber actually describes worship in terms of a four act play: Entrance, the Word of God, the Table, and Dismissal. I would rather think of it in terms of four activities which can be intermingled: songs and prayers, spiritual gifts, preaching, and the sacraments.

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