Why a Call to Worship?
We are called to do a lot of things. We’re called in for dinner, called for a quick question, or even “called out on the carpet” for a mistake. In each of these instances the call shifts our focus from one thing to another. It’s easy to get caught up in our own little worlds and a call, though not always welcome, is one way to get our attention where it needs to be.
When we are called to worship, either through a song or a scripture passage, we are encouraged to shift our gaze from ourselves towards our Creator. One day in seven we are commanded to rest from our regular labors and focus on the Lord. He is our audience on Sunday as we gather. He is the One we serve. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that, and this is why we are called to come and worship. Typically the texts that are used in this part of the service remind us of why the Lord is deserving of worship and what our response should be. One such passage that comes to mind is Psalm 100:
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name
For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.”
Notice how the first part calls us to worship while the rest reminds us of the attributes and works of God which are deserving of that worship. The Psalms of Ascents (Psalms 120-134) are also great examples of this. These Psalms were written to call Israel to worship as they ascended Mount Zion on their way to the temple. Sometimes we’ll accompany this part of the service with an appropriate song like Come Thou Fount or Be Still My Soul. These songs are prayers which call us to come before the Lord with humility, joy, and praise.
Our time of worship is not ultimately about us. We receive blessing, comfort, peace, and instruction during the service, but we must remember that this is called a service because we are here to serve God. The call to worship synchronizes the hearts of all who have gathered towards that end and begins our time of corporate service, to the praise of His glorious Name.