Since I am coming to that holy room,
Where, with Thy choir of saints for evermore,
I shall be made Thy music; as I come
I tune the instrument here at the door,
And what I must do then, think here before.
—John Donne (1572-1631), “Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness”
While singing a hymn of praise to God, worshipers join a cosmic choir intent on heralding the greatness and goodness of God.
—C. Welton Gaddy, The Gift of Worship, 108
One of the great frustrations of this life is that even when we are granted a glimpse of the glory of God, our capacities for pleasure are so small that we groan at the incongruity between the revelation of heaven and the response of our heart. Therefore the great hope of all the holiest people is not only that they might see the glory of God, but that they might somehow be given a new strength to savor it with infinite satisfaction.
—John Piper, The Pleasures of God, 311
Christian worship takes place, as in Revelation, both in heaven and on earth. We worship in the Spirit, and as we do so we are taking our place amongst the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. At this point I must pay tribute to John Calvin’s eucharistic theology, which like that of the eastern orthodox churches insists that the real action is taking place in heaven and that we, so far from bringing that magically down to earth, are instead caught up to heaven. The Sursum Corda, “lift up your hearts,” is the sign of what is really going on. Heaven is not a long way away. It is where Jesus and the Spirit are, revealing the Father and drawing us into worship, love, and obedience.
—N. T. Wright, “Freedom and Framework, Spirit and Truth: Recovering Biblical Worship,” 10
Good liturgy, whether formal or informal, ought never to be simply a corporate emoting session, however “Christian,” but a fresh and awed attempt to inhabit the great unceasing liturgy that is going on all the time in the heavenly realms.
—N.T. Wright, The Case for the Psalms: Why They Are Essential, 6
Timid, tame domesticated adoration plays no part in heaven’s chorus.
The Ascension doctrine helps us to keep a balance between seeing God in Christ as “one of us” and Christ as “from the heart of God.” Too great an emphasis on the Incarnation can distort this balance, so that worship is centered exclusively on the human aspects of worship – our concerns, our needs, our agenda, and our material world. Worship, unless corrected by the dimension of heaven, can become earthbound. The Ascension doctrine reminds us that there is another dimension to worship. We join Christ—rather than Christ coming down to join us—in the eternal nature of heaven, and there our worship is caught up with that of the angels and archangels and the apostles of every generation.
—Peter Atkins, Ascension Now: Implications of Christ’s Ascension for Today’s Church, 83-84