The Old Testament Hebrew people focused on remembrance, forgivenesss and thanksgiving in their ancient forms of worship. Times of worship surrounded one of the previous themes and incorporated the entire community. Expectation centered upon giving back to God, making acts of repentance for their sinful ways, and giving thanks for what God had done in the nation’s history. Worship was a community expectation and was a community event. It was tangible and experiental for all people. I can only imagine the smell of the sacrifices and how it transformed the people’s expectation and knowledge of God.
The focus is on God’s grace and goodness. Healthy fear and awe of God develops through the ceremonial nature of worship. It is much larger than any one person and therefore takes the entire community to worship and the granduer of God is acknowledged throughout.
I wonder how far we have come from an experiental, communal and ceremonial worship experience and how it has affected the Christian community? In our western context, have we grown hyper-sensitivity to the individual and thereby lost the community aspect of worship? Have we lost the bigger “story” of our faith by focusing so greatly on the individual experience?