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St. Luke Core Value III: Expressing Genuine, Heartfelt Worship To God.
By Pearl Homiak

We worship God because "God is love" (I John 4:8). Also, "He first loved us (I John 4:19) and "sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him [Christ]" (I John 4:9). God wants us to worship Him. "You shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3, 1st Commandment), and "you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve" (Matthew 4:10).

The main function of worship is to build and preserve a relationship with God. We do this not only privately through personal prayer and mediation but also collectively, as a community. "Worship" is our response to what we accept as "holy," which refers to that which is sacred, divine, heavenly, and Godly.

Our method of worship also strengthens our moral and interpersonal commitments and understanding of who we are. As such, by worshipping together we support each other.

Christian worship is based on Old Testament worship. Isaiah, Chapter 6, is the prototype of heavenly worship, in which we engage as we worship in the Church. Fr. Peter Gillquist clearly explains this in his book, Becoming Orthodox. In about 700 B.C. Isaiah "saw the Lord [Christ] high and lifted up with the train of His robe filling the temple" (p. 81; Isaiah 6:1). We see the icons of Christ and the saints, which are "windows to Heaven" (p. 84).

Isaiah also saw the Lord's throne, the seraphim (a rank of angels), "doors in the heavenly sanctuary," and the altar (p. 85; Isaiah 6:4). We see Fr. Andrew prepare the Eucharist on the St. Luke altar where bread and wine is changed to the Body and Blood of Christ.

Isaiah "heard the angels sing...heavens music: 'Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts'" (p. 86; Isaiah 6:8). Today we sing the Trisagion ("Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal..."). Isaiah felt the burning coal ("symbol of the sacrament"-p. 86) that an angel put on his lips. We receive the Body and Blood of Christ. ("O taste and see that the Lord is good"-Psalm 34:8; Presanctified Liturgy).

Isaiah also smelled the smoke ("prayers of the saints"-p. 91) filling the house. Today we smell the smoke and fragrance of the incense coming from the censor.

In Isaiah, Chapter 6, God is calling Isaiah to wake up the Israelites, because at that time Israel was in bad shape. Isaiah immediately responded. "Here am I! Send me" (Isaiah 6:8). Do we hesitate today? Yet, how can we? "All of us who worship God are called to freely and firmly say "Yes!" to Jesus Christ in whatever He asks us to do (p. 94).

So how do we at St. Luke actually express genuine, heartfelt worship to God? The parishioners that gathered together to discuss this core value offered these insights. We worship God by:

  1. Praying with undivided attention.
  2. Fasting at specified times (Lent, Advent, etc.) and before Communion.
  3. Coming regularly to church services where we venerate icons, light candles, sing, pray, confess our sins, and receive the Eucharist.
  4. Praising and glorifying God.
  5. Tithing.
  6. Dedicating our lives to God.

By fervently worshipping God some St. Luke parishioners have gained a fresh understanding of His will for them. Others have found salvation and renewal of life.

Jesus Christ stated, "True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him (John 4:23). Who made Heaven and earth" (Revelation 14:07). Thus, as St. Paul adds, "Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:28-29).

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