What do you worship?

Window MJ IMG_0066If you had a temple in the secret spaces of your heart,
What would you worship there?
What would you bring to sacrifice?
What would be behind the curtain in the holy of holies?
Go there now.
                                        Tom Barrett

In ancient times, the temple was the center of the Jewish religion. It was the most beautiful building in all Judea. I wonder what it might be like to have one place in your country where people could journey to experience the mystery of God. It would have to be very beautiful and light, and full of music, or perhaps silence. The Jews had such a building. They believed that God was close to them in the temple. Only the priests could go deep inside to the very center room—they called it the holy of holies. But just being in the building gave people a sense of hope and wonder and mystery.

The poet Tom Barrett asks,

“If you had a temple in the secret spaces of your heart,
What would you worship there?”

Twentieth century theologian James Luther Adams said that every person worships something. The word “worship” comes from worth—to worship means to honor the thing that is worth the most to us. To what will we give our devotion, our loyalty, our sacrifices? Whatever we give our deepest allegiance to—that is what we worship, that is our God. Even if we think we do not believe in any God, we will give our allegiance to something.

What we worship, what our God is, has implications for how we live our lives, and what we value in all parts of our lives. Should our attitude toward reality be one of caution, or thankfulness? Obedience, or exploration? Aggression, or compassion? Who or what is revered by us? Warriors dying in battle, or mothers giving birth? Those who are tough and tenacious, or those who are thoughtful and kind? It is not enough to ask, do you believe in God? Rather, we must ask, what kind of God is worthy of our belief? James Luther Adams said it is important to choose something worthy of our allegiance.

Tom Barrett, “What’s In The Temple?” is from Keeping in Touch, 1993.
For more from James Luther Adams, see “A Faith for the Free,” in The Essential James Luther Adams, edited by George Kimmich Beach (Boston: Skinner House, 1998).

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One thought on “What do you worship?

  1. Pingback: What is worthy of our worship? | Finding Our Way Home

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