Over the years we have emphasized the importance of ritual. Rituals are significant in the Bible, and they ought to be significant to us. We have also emphasized the importance of worshiping God with our bodies and not just with our minds. We have sought to resist the temptation that many Reformed Christians deal with, which is the idea that God gave us bodies as carrying cases to get our brains to church.
And of course, it would be better to have your mind at church and your body elsewhere, than to have your body at church and your mind elsewhere. But fortunately, we don’t have to choose, and under ordinary circumstances, we must not choose. And so here is a brief reminder of the doctrinal reasons for some of the very physical things we do in our worship of God.
We sing throughout the service, which should be strenuous, we kneel in confession, we eat bread and drink wine, and we raise our hands in the Gloria Patri. We worship God physically for three reasons.
First, we believe that Scripture requires this kind of thing of us. We are not in charge of inventing a worship service that we think God might like. He wrote a book; He tells us. Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
Second, we worship God this way in order to lean against the perennial temptation of Gnosticism—the idea that some divine spark inside is all that is necessary, and that the material body is irrelevant. We want to be reminded every week that God has a claim on your lungs, your knees, your hands, and your mouth and throat.
And last, we believe that worship is a conversation—a dialogue—between God and His people. It is therefore important that you not be passive. You have a role to play that goes far beyond that of simply listening to a lecture. We gather to hear the Word of God, but we also gather so that God can hear from us, observing us as we approach Him.