I can almost hear the bells of our church steeple still ringing in my ear.
Every Sunday morning as a child church bells would echo through our town. From our steeple tower, a proclamation would sound to all who could hear that God was summoning his people to worship.
The walk from the back door of the parsonage to the church sanctuary took less than a minute at a ten-year-old stride. As the pastor, my dad would wake up early, marching that same path in the dark. He would prepare his heart for worship with prayer and meditation over his text. I would mostly rely on the bells.
When Robert Robinson penned the words, “Come Thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace,” he wasn’t speculating. He knew the reality of the human condition. We come from a long line of people who are restlessly prone to wander. The heart is a fickle thing and needs to be tuned regularly. The call to worship serves as a tuning of our hearts.
God Calls Us to Worship
Praise the Lord, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord! (Psalm 117)
There is a quiet reminder in the call to worship that worship is not our idea. We worship because it is God’s idea. Psalm 117 is God’s word, which means it is God who is speaking to his people, commanding, inviting, and exhorting us to praise him (verse 1). This call is rooted in a firm commitment to both his glory and our joy. When God’s people are gathered in his name, he serves as the host. He has initiated and invited us into fellowship with him.
The Response of Worship
The response in Psalm 117 implies a recognition of who God is — of his worth (verse 2). In the call to worship we recognize and remember that it is God alone who is worthy to have our hearts, lips, and lives. As truth rings through our bones, we are reminded of the object of our worship. Worship, in the rhythm of revelation and praise, begins with God making himself known, and is followed by our response of remembrance and praise.
This response of worship in Psalm 117 is one rooted in who God has revealed himself to be. The psalmist’s worship is informed. Likewise, we praise and exhort God because he has revealed himself to us in his word. We worship him because of the beauty of his character. He is the God who has fixed his love upon us as his chosen people. He is the God whose faithfulness cannot be exhausted. He is the God who is worthy of worship from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. Our theology leads to doxology.
Hear the Call
The next time a worship service begins — even today — pay close attention to the invitation that rings through the air. We are called not because of our righteousness, our works, or our piety. We are welcomed because God has chosen us, Christ has purchased us, and the Holy Spirit has sealed us for eternity. This call is for the weak and the weary, the poor and the helpless. The call to worship is a call to come and drink deeply from the well that will never run dry.
Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price. (Isaiah 55:1)