|The "Side Altar" of Saint Patrick's Cathedral Church of Ireland, Armagh|
1. What is the chief end of man?A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. - Westminster Shorter Catechism
When it comes to the Church I make only one presumption, in total agreement with the Westminster Shorter Catechism (which shaped so much of my early faith), which is that God is to be worshiped and glorified above all. I believe that worship is not a simply a hobby for the religious, nor is it something for us to do one day a week. Rather worship is our raison d’etre, the main purpose and point of our lives and I believe that through worship we can come closer to God and are in turn changed by it.
Though modern thinking seems to believe worship is about us, and therefore depends upon our tastes, our preferences and our enjoyment, I flatly reject such thinking. Worship is not about good songs or good preaching but rather about employing each and every part of our body and mind in praise... a tall order I admit.
That’s why personally I support the rights of those Church of Ireland parishes which seek to worship God not only with songs of praise, or visual aids but also smells and sounds which when combined with the Eucharistic meal create a multi-sensory worship experience and which use the faculties of the body and the soul in praise. Indeed I think that this use of every sense in worship, for God’s honour, elevates worship to a whole new level.
I actually think that this total worship, body and soul, is what God is looking for from our praise though I accept others feel different. For me worship is meant to be a total giving, or as the Book of Common Prayer says a total “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving”, wherein “we offer and present... ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto” our Lord and our God. As such I believe that I am, and indeed every Christian is, a sacrifice which is to given to God not upon but rather at His Altar. This understanding is in total alignment to the thinking of St. Paul, who in his letter to the Romans, urges Christians “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship.”