The scenery you drive by every day on your morning commute doesn’t change, but sometimes it is useful to take a moment to really take it in and appreciate it. I want to do something similar here in regards to our liturgy, and draw your attention to something we do every week. Every Sunday, to begin our service, the minister opens with, “Lift up Your Hearts.” To which the congregation answers, “We lift them up to the Lord.” First, why do we do this? Second, how should we do this?
We do this because our worship service is an offering of praise unto God. As the smoke of the Israelites’ sacrifices ascended unto God under the Mosaic Law, now we ascend unto God, in Christ, to worship the living God. We are living sacrifices, laid upon the altar. We come in Christ, the true and only sacrifice. He is the sacrifice of atonement, and we ascend with Him as a burnt offering. We are purchased by Him, in order to be an offering of praise unto Him.
“But,” some may ask, “how should we do this?” What if you don’t feel particularly “worshippy”? What if your feelings are all out of sorts due to a personal trial, an unexpected bill, a family conflict (on the way to church no less), or the guilt of sin? The point of this opening statement (often called the sursum corda) is not to make a statement about ourselves, or our feelings, but to make a statement of faith. In essence, our faith must transcend both our feelings and our intellect. You might or might not feel very worshipful. No matter, lift your heart unto God by faith. Your intellect may or may not clearly understand all the theological implications of our liturgy. No matter, lift your heart unto God by faith.
You have received a new heart from God so that you might render praise unto God. So lift up your heart unto Him regardless of how you feel, regardless of how much you understand, regardless of how sinful you were this week, regardless of how difficult life has been, regardless of how dark the valley you may be in. Your new heart, given by grace, transcends these earthly circumstances and lays hold of Christ, your hope, your joy, your prize.