I recently read a daily devotional about Mary’s act of radical worship, when she broke open the Alabaster jar and poured the nard upon Jesus. Within this devotional the writer described worship as ‘going for a kiss.’ It might seem a little feminine for male members of Church but this phrase struck me right between the eyes.
I studied at Bible College and pretty much thought I had wrapped up the topic of worship within my 5 years of theological study. However, when I read this phrase, I suddenly realised, that there is more going on when we worship than we think.
So, according to Strong’s Greek concordance, worship means ‘to kiss.’
If you can imagine entering the throne room of an ancient oriental King (or Henry VIII for that matter), the usual approach would mean crawling on your hands and knees, with your head in its lowest position, before kissing the feet of the one seated on the throne.
This was the ultimate sign of respect. It is reverence in its most humble of forms. The one approaching the ruler was quite literally grovelling on the ground at their feet.
God is Almighty, Power-full, Creator, Sustainer, Provider, Protector etc., etc.
But when you read Luke 15, we see that the one doing the ‘kissing’ is the Father in the story of the Prodigal son. Luke 15:20 records that when ‘… he (the prodigal son) was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.’ (NLT)
Here are at least four things a Jewish patriarch would never do:
- Run in public. That meant lifting up the front of his gown and was indecent behaviour.
- Run to a son who had deserted the family, received excommunication from the wider community and had practically wished the father dead.
- Embrace his son in public. Hugging and cuddling was not decent behaviour.
- Kiss his son in public! A definite ‘no, no.’
The father literally, ran, embraced his son and kissed his neck! Jesus told this story to shake up the Pharisees with the picture of the gentiles coming home to the Father and also to show the radical, unrelenting love of God that had been completely misunderstood for generations.
Often in our worship services we find ourselves praying ‘You are welcome in this place, come and have your way!’ We draw near to God in humility, preparing ourselves to kiss his feet and grovel for the mistakes we have made. BUT, and its an eternally massive BUT… The Father has already run down the road – and he is the one actually doing the welcoming – embraced us and hung on our necks with kisses of compassion and love.
We come like Mary – or the unnamed woman of questionable character in the synoptic gospels – prepared to pour out all we have on Jesus only to find that Jesus has already poured out all He has on us.
It’s a Kingdom paradox.
The King who deserves my reverence and awe, my respect, my grovelling, kneels in humility and washes my weary soul (feet) with His unquenchable, unrelenting love.
And so worship is an exchange of affection. It’s a kiss between lovers. I come to God with my kisses of reverence, only to find that He has kissed my neck with irreverent (at least as far as the Pharisees are concerned) behaviour – running, hugging, embracing and kissing.
So next time you are in worship allow yourself to be loved by Almighty God – The Father of creation.
‘Kiss me and kiss me again, for your love is sweeter than wine.’ (Song of Songs 1:2)
God bless you