I well remember a certain worship service that I attended in Jerusalem several years ago now. People from all over the world joined in—pastors, missionaries, scholars, lay people—singing songs, reading texts and sharing stories of God’s marvelous work in their lives. What sticks with me from this experience, however, is not so much the quality of the music or the profundity of the testimonies, as inspiring as they were. What impressed me the most was the oneness that I sensed in the atmosphere and the deep devotion to God that thoroughly overshadowed whatever differences existed among us. As I listened and joined in the chorus, I experienced what I had long heard to be true: worship transforms us.
In Isaiah 6, the prophet unquestionably experienced this same truth. In what was surely a heightened encounter with God, Isaiah underwent a series of changes that left him a drastically different person:
- Isaiah’s view of God deepened: “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty, and the hem of his robe filled the temple (v. 6).”
- Isaiah’s perception of himself and those around him changed: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips (v. 5)….”
- Isaiah’s sense of calling shifted: “Here am I; send me (v. 8)!”
Clearly, the prophet would never be the same after this experience. Worship, once again, transforms people.
Here at Fresno Pacific University and Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, we often speak longingly about change and transformation. We are aware of certain differences between us, and we even feel as though we are on the outside looking in. When I hear people express such sentiments—or even sense them myself!—I think back on that service in Jerusalem. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful,” I’ve thought, “to set everything else aside and worship together each week for even a few minutes?”
Now, I am happy to say, we can do just that. Throughout this spring semester, the seminary will hold a chapel service every Wednesday from 11:15-11:50 a.m. in North Hall. Each chapel, designed intentionally for staff, faculty and non-traditional students, will include singing, readings, prayer and reflective comments from a member of the university community. You are not only invited to attend, but permitted to take the time away from your desk. Don’t forget to mark the date and time on your calendar. Remember, worship transforms us.*
*Each of the next three Connections will look at specific areas of our lives that often undergo change when we worship. Dr. Joe will discuss how worship changes our views of God, Randy Worden our views of ourselves and those around us and Angulus Wilson our views of our work/purpose.