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The previous post in this two-part series outlined the first half of my chapter, “The Worship Leader and the Trinity,” in Doxology & Theology: How the Gospel Forms the Worship Leader, where we saw how the Trinity effects the possibility and proximity of worship and protects the priority and purity of worship. We now move from high-level to ground-level in processing a Trinitarian saturation of our worship.
The Trinity Affects the Posture and Procedure of Worship
1) The Trinity encourages a peaceful, humble posture in worship.
There’s a tendency, when we engage in worship and faith, to live with a level of anxiety about pleasing God, “having our heart in the right place,” or “being a clean vessel.” The Trinity puts these pensive, doubting, fearful thoughts to rest because of the finished work He provides. When we understand just how active, aggressive, and thorough the Trinity’s work is in our salavation, we are both humbled and at peace.
2) The Trinity shapes how worship proceeds.
When we grasp what the Trinity truly and actively does in our salvation and worship, we begin to recognize that God the Father not only calls us to salvation and worship but actually, throught the Son, by the power of the Spirit, also provides us with the response to that call. Trinitarian worship, therefore, takes the shape of a dialogue–God speaks, we respond, God speaks, we respond, etc. When our worship is structured as such, we reflect, practice, and truly embody the work of the Trinity among us. Even further, though, this dialogue, because of the way the Trinity does His magnificent work, takes the shape of the gospel
- God’s holy glory
- our recognition of our brokenness, depravity and inadequacy
- God’s provision of Christ, inviting us to intimate fellowship with the Trinity
When we walk through this general three-part story in worship, we “rehearse the gospel,” worshiping in “Trinitarian procedure.” Gospel-shaped worship is Trinitarian worship.
1) The Trinity should be reflected in our worship practices.
How does the way we conduct worship–from our “stage” setup, to our architecture, to the proportion of congregational vs. pastoral/leadership participation, to our musical style, to the language of our prayers and readings–reflect that our God exists in Trinitarian community? Practices that err on the side of the communal versus the individual “look” more Trinitarian because they mirror God’s oneness within His many-ness. Suddenly, supposedly neutral, mundane, and up-for-grabs things can be informed by God’s very nature.
2) The Trinity shapes the propositions of our sermons, prayers, songs, and readings.
When most speak, write, and think about “Trinitarian worship,” this is usually the most obvious starting place. How well are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit named and addressed in our worship services? Do our songs, prayers, messages, and readings overtly reflect the Trinitarian nature of God? (In this section, I argue that gospel- and Christ-centered preaching is a gloriously Trinitarian practice, whereas moralistic, self-help, and prosperity preaching is not just bad but anti-Trinitarian).
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