Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. — Psalm 95: 6
Let us worship God, humble ourselves, and intercede on behalf of the departed.
The 95th psalm invites the people of Israel to give glory to God. The praying congregation, whom we must imagine assembled in the temple, is called upon to worship God, who has created the world and steers it in His complete sovereignty (verses 3–5). After all, the believers themselves are works of the Creator. They are “the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand” (verse 7). This hand leads and guides all things.
Praying, bowing down, kneeling
The posture of the believer who comes to the Creator in adoration is described by way of praying, kneeling, and bowing down. Such an attitude is also necessary in our preparation for the upcoming divine service for the departed.
Our preparation consists of three stages
- Let us first of all turn to God in order to worship Him as the psalmist recommends in our Bible text. Let us take the time to reflect upon God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and perfection!
- While we are at it, let us also think about the love of Jesus, which has triumphed over hell and death (Revelation 1: 18). Such reflection leads us to the fear of God. This in turn leads us to gratitude, strengthens our trust in God, and stimulates our desire to live with Him, the triune God, into all eternity.
- We are aware of the majesty of God, and humble ourselves before Him. We do not run around in sackcloth and ashes, as was the custom in ancient times (Jonah 3: 6). Instead we reflect upon our sinfulness. It is in this manner that we recognise, on the one hand, that it is impossible for us to understand God’s thoughts and actions. On the other hand we distance ourselves from our prejudices, and endeavour to see our neighbour as God sees him.
- On the basis of our gratitude for the grace we have received, we develop the desire to share this same grace with the souls in the We trust in the love of Christ and therefore do not allow ourselves to be deterred by questions of how and why.
- In the Spirit of Christ we intercede for and invite all the departed so that they may come close to Him in order to find deliverance.
Let us not only think about our own salvation, but rather also that of all the living and the dead. We will only be able to enjoy eternal bliss once we no longer exclude anyone else from it. That is an expression of love for God and our neighbour.
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on Sunday, 28 February 2016 at Midrand Congregation in preparation for Departed Service.