It was 1984 and a soon-to-be classic was released in the theaters. Even today, the question “Who you gonna call?” is met with a loud – “Ghostbusters!” The theme song was nominated for an Oscar and the movie went on to produce 2 sequels (the latest in 2016), several animated series, video games, and became part of our cultural history (the geeks in Stranger Things wore the Ghostbusters outfits – oh yeah). I would love to have a fun discussion on who you think is the best Ghostbuster (later on that I guess).
So what does this supernatural comedy have to do with worship? It provides me, this brilliant writer, with a witty segue to talk about one of the first things to do with worship services – at least chronologically speaking – no, not the announcements. I am referring to the invocation, the call to worship, the opening remarks. You know, that part of the service where we begin to quiet down, get our kids back from under the pews (was I the only kid that did this?), and begin to focus. It is often a prayer or a Scripture reading (as a prayer) or a simple call to worship. I’ve experienced other forms – a song, a media driven presentation, church bells ringing, and a blowing of a shofar (ram’s horn/trumpet) to name a few.
This practice is very Biblical … especially the shofar and Scripture. The 15 Ascent Psalms (120-134) were read on the journey to Jerusalem to worship, as well as by the priests on the 15 steps into the Temple. There are other Biblical texts often used for Call to Worships – Psalms 5, 19, 66, 95, 100, Hebrews 10, Matthew 11, et al.
Now, here is the question, “Who is being called?” We often think the prayer is calling on God to make His presence known, to open up the Heavens, to speak to His people, and/or to draw us closer to Him – and there are times Scripture tells us to call on the Lord. While these are valid – and excellent prayers – I think we are missing the point at times when it comes to a Call of Worship. I mean, God is always ready to be worshiped, always present, always speaking to His people, and always desiring to draw us closer.
Now, here is the question, “Who is being called?”
BUT if we are to see this more clearly, then we would see that it is me, you, all of us that are being called. Read Psalms 95 … Come, let us come, let us sing, let us bow, let us kneel … the call is for us to come to worship. Put everything else aside, put the phone on airplane mode (or simply turn it off – unless you use the Bible app), set our hearts, minds, ears, and our all to be attuned to Him.
There are some basics to an invocation …
- It sets the purpose of worship that we are here to listen and to respond to Him.
- It sets the plea from Him … the priests (the Lord’s intercessors) call out for us to come and worship Him, the Lord calls for us to gather
- It sets the perspective … it identifies the God we worship, the LORD, our Creator, Almighty, King of kings, etc
- It sets the perspective … it identifies the ones who worship: us – and our neediness – broken, needy, hungry sinners … and our blessedness – forgiven, saved, and now we are His, His children
- It sets the point of origin. Come, NOW is the time to worship.
Now a Call to Worship “prayer” is to God – but it is an expectant pleading for Him to work in us that He has gathered this very moment – it is not an accident that each person is there for a reason. God has called us together for this very moment. WOW. In the word of familiar great hymn, “Come Thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace.” We call on Him to tune our hearts, to get the wax out of our ears (metaphorically), and to lead us to respond to His great love.
But generally speaking, the Call to Worship is for us. He calls, He is the initiator, and He invites us into a relationship where we worship … where we respond with humility and need, with praise and adoration, with an intake of the living water that never runs dry …
Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price. (Isaiah 55:1)
So this weekend, let us enter into His presence with Thanksgiving and into His courts with praise … and it starts with entering.
So let this be your call … come and worship!