God for Us

In the New Testament, all emphasis is on what God does for man. That excludes any interest in what man, through sacrifices and similar acts, is supposed to do for God (cf. Acts 17:25, quoted above). Only one kind of sacrifice is required from man in the New Testament, and that is man’s offering of his whole person to the service of God, as described in Rom. 12:1: “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, which is holy and agreeable to God.” Here the apostle calls it a logical, that is, a spiritual, worship (latreia). This is the sort of worship or sacrifice that may be said to be characteristic of the New Testament as a whole. And in this context liturgical terms are frequently used. But here there is no question of sacrifice in the technical sense of the word. The only sacrifice in the New Testament which may be compared with the Old Testament sacrifices, and which may be regarded as a continuation or rather a fulfilment of them, is the sacrifice of Christ (Rom. 4:25; Eph. 52, etc.).

—Bo Reicke, “Some Reflections on Worship in the NT,” in New Testament Essays: Studies in Memory of Thomas Walter Manson 1893-1958, 197-8

Primary Theology

The language of praise is the primary language of Christian faith, and for that reason the liturgy is sometimes called “primary theology.” Primary theology takes place at the point at which God touches us through word and sacrament, and we in response offer thanksgiving, supplication, invocation, benediction to God. . . . The worship and praise of God is the living context, the precondition even, for the theological enterprise.

—Catherine M. LaCugna, God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life, 357

Because He First Loved Us

I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me;
It was not I that found, O Savior true;
No, I was found, was found of Thee.

Thou didst reach forth Thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm-vexed sea;
‘Twas not so much that I on Thee took hold,
As Thou, dear Lord, on me, on me.

I find, I walk, I love; but O the whole
Of love is but my answer, Lord, to Thee!
For Thou wert long beforehand with my soul;
Always, always Thou lovedst me.

—anonymous (1878) (hymn)

The Giver

God lovingly receives our affection, our worship, our gifts, our conversation. Be this as it may, the line is to be traced, for the most part, from Him to us: He gives and we receive. All that we offer to Him, our lives and hearts, come from Him in the first place.

—Edith M. Humphrey, “The Gift of the Father,” in Trinitarian Theology for the Church: Scripture, Community, Worship, 94

We give Thee but Thine own,
Whate’er the gift may be;
All that we have is Thine alone,
A trust, O Lord, from Thee.

—William Walsham How (1858) (hymn)

Revelation and Response

No one can claim, of course, that every God-human encounter in Scripture follows this clear pattern; even if it did, there is no forthright command to fashion Christian worship using this deep structure. Nevertheless, with such a consistent pattern of divine-human conversation seen in Scripture, it suggests a normative approach—even a solid rationale—for seriously considering this pattern for the divine-human encounters of corporate worship.

—Constance Cherry, The Music Architect: Blueprints for Engaging Worshipers in Song, 82