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This quote is from the laptop of author N. T. Wright who is the Canon Theologian at Westminster Cathedral. Even though what follows is based on a very familiar biblical passage, it is presented not as Scripture or even as a paraphrase of Scripture, but as instruction in the nature of true Christian worship. I hope you find it helpful.


Though we sing with the tongues of men and angels, if we are not truly worshipping the living God, we are noisy gongs and clanging cymbals. Though we organize the liturgy most beautifully, if it does not enable us to worship the living God, we are mere ballet-dancers. Though we repave the floor and reface the stonework, though we balance our budgets and attract all the tourists, if we are not worshipping God, we are nothing.

Worship is humble and glad, worship forgets itself in remembering God; worship celebrates the truth as God’s truth, not its own. True worship doesn’t put on a show or make a fuss; true worship isn’t forced, isn’t half-hearted, doesn’t keep looking at its watch, doesn’t worry what the person in the next pew may be doing. True worship is open to God, adoring God, waiting for God, trusting God even in the dark.

Worship will never end; whether there be buildings, they will crumble; whether there be committees, they will fall asleep; whether there be budgets, they will add up to nothing. For we build for the present age, we discuss for the present age, and we pay for the present age; but when the age to come is here, the present age will be done away. For now we see the beauty of God through a glass, darkly, but then face to face; now we appreciate only part, but then we shall affirm and appreciate God, even as the living God has affirmed and appreciated us. So now our tasks are worship, mission and management, these three; but the greatest of these is worship.

— N. T. Wright, FOR ALL GOD’S WORTH: TRUE WORSHIP AND THE CALLING OF THE CHURCH. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997, p. 8-9. ISBN 0-8028-4319-0