Saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is trotting out one of the oldest cliches. The thing is, cliches exist because they have their foundation in reality. Go to the St Louis Art Museum and look at the energy and desperation in a Max Beckmann painting or the tranquility that Claude Monet invokes with his water lilies. Stand in front of a great work of art, and you see pages and pages of description and emotion, hope, despair, love, victory and tragedy in just a few square feet of canvas.
Worship is a series of pictures. We come together and let God paint a picture of who He is and what His love for us looks like. When we sing, the songs and hymns are pictures or scenes that I can scan: I can to go to dark Gethsemane or survey the wondrous cross. I can see from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down. I can look at my life in God’s context: when I’m found in the desert place, though I walk through the wilderness, blessed be His name.
When I receive communion I get a participatory view of God’s table in His house, and see the family of God gathered around it. Even the act of the offering basket passing around is a way to visually capture the generosity that God’s Spirit inspires in us. Combines with confession, forgiveness, baptism, the Scriptures and sermon: these are all brushstrokes that bring to life a painting of God’s passion for His people in the course of an hour on Sundays.
And each time we come together, the same elements come together, but in a fresh way with different colors that highlight different nuances of my condition and God’s truth. Stand back: take it all in, reflect on it, enjoy it!