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Worship

Worship

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The term worship refers to a complex of acts whereby humans express their devotion and reverence toward a deity (in theistic religions) or toward a transcendent yet nondivine being (in nontheistic religions). Arguably, as soon as human individuals become conscious of their utter dependence on a supernatural power and express their devotion to him, her, or it, worship is born. While this private worship is undoubtedly valid, conventionally worship refers to the public and corporate acts of devotion performed in an organized religion. Furthermore, the three pronounsin the masculine, feminine, and neutral gendersused above to refer to the deity (alternatively, deities) or the transcendent but nondivine being(s) indicate the diverse ways they are conceived, either as personal (male and female) or impersonal, as singular (monotheistic) or as plural (polytheistic). This entry focuses on worship rendered to a personal deity, male or female, in theistic religions.

Studies of religion have shown that there is a reciprocal relationship between worship and belief and that in this relationship the former is prior to the latter. The first human reaction to the presence of the tremendum et fascinans to use Rudolf Ottos (18691937) expression for the sacredis not to formulate beliefs about it but to worship it in awe and devotion. This worship eventually gives rise to theological reflections and beliefs, which in turn shape and regulate the rituals in which worship is carried out.

One of the most fundamental forms of worship is sacrifice. These rituals are performed publicly, in the open air or in religious buildings, and privately, among family. Religious officials generally preside at public sacrifices, whereas the male head of the household often, but not always, presides over worship in family settings. In Daoism and Buddhism, for instance, worship, including sacrifices, may be undertaken by women as representatives of the family. Various objects are offered to the one God, gods, spirits, ancestors, demonic beings, or any other transcendent being. In bloodless sacrifices, food and drink, such as fruits, grains, and baked goods, milk and milk products, water, alcoholic beverages, and flowers, are offered. Inanimate objects are offered too, including clothing, jewelry, coins, precious stones, and precious metals. In blood sacrifices, domesticated animals and, less often, humans are ritually slain, and their blood is sprinkled on the altar or on the fields to maintain the cosmic order or promote fertility. The sacrificial rite may be a simple act of lifting up the offering, killing or burning the animal, and the libation of its blood. Eventually, the rite can become highly complicated, requiring performance by religious experts. The intentions of sacrificial worship are described as fourfold: praise, thanksgiving, supplication, and expiation. Sacrifices are offered regularly (daily, weekly, monthly, at the beginning of seasons, and yearly) and extraordinarily (for special joyful events or on dangerous occasions) and at various sacred sites, both natural (e.g., trees, mountains, rivers, and stones) and constructed (e.g., temples, pagodas, and churches).

Ritual worship varies greatly from religion to religion, from age to age, and from place to place. In Vedic practice and later Hinduism, the central sacrifice is the offering of fire, personified as the god Agni and the symbol connecting Vedic understandings of the person, society, and the cosmos. In addition, worship of deities through the offering of foods, service, and gestures of respect toward the deities (pūjā ), later amalgamated into devotional (bhakti ) Hinduism, is one of the most pervasive forms of Hindu worship. This worship takes a variety of forms, from simple gestures, such as offerings of water, foods, and flowers, recitation of mantras, singing of songs, and the waving of camphor before the image of the deity, to more elaborate gestures, such as offering hospitality to the god, invocations, bathing and dressing the image, and carrying the enthroned image in procession. Central to this pūjā is the experience of auspicious seeing (darsana ), in which the devotee sees the god or goddess and is seen by those who are granted favors by the deity, symbolized by the returning of the sacred food (prasāda ).

In ancient Israel, sacrifices at the Jerusalem Temple, officiated by the priestly class, played a pivotal role in the religious life of the people until the destruction of the Temple in 70 ce. In terms of ritual, in pre-Rabbinic Judaism a distinction is made between burnt offerings (holocaust), in which the sacrificial animal is totally burned up, and peace or communion offerings, in which only parts of the sacrificial animal are burned, with the animals blood poured out or smeared on the altar and some parts of the animal consumed by the people in a sacrificial meal. In expiatory sacrifices, the sacrificial animal is burned up and no part of it is eaten. Ancient Israel also practiced bloodless sacrifices consisting of the offering of agricultural products. These sacrifices, blood and bloodless, were made daily and on solemn festivals, such as Passover, Shavuot, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. With the destruction to the Temple, the whole Jewish sacrificial system came to an end, and new forms of worship arose with the emergence of the rabbis as spiritual leaders.

According to Christianity, the Jewish sacrificial system and worship reached their culmination in Jesuss death on the cross, which is seen as the perfect and definitive sacrifice, bringing about the redemption of the world. Jesuss life, ministry, death, and resurrection are made efficaciously present (not repeated) in the sacramentsthere are seven of these in the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. Of them, the highest is the Eucharist, the perfect sacrifice, in which Jesuss body and blood are believed to be physically and really present and the spiritual benefits of Jesuss sacrifice on the cross are imparted to his followers and constitute the church as his mystical body. Christian worship is often called liturgy, that is, the whole public worship of the mystical body of Jesus Christ, head and members.

Islam is in principle opposed to sacrifice. Consonant with its fundamental belief in the unity of God (tawhīd ) and in Muhammad (c. 570632) as the final prophet, Islam emphasizes worship as service (ibadah ) to God and veneration of the Prophet. This worship/service constitutes the so-called Five Pillars of Islam: the confession of faith (shahada ), ritual prayer (salat ), fasting (sawm ) during the month of Ramadan, the pilgrimage (hajj ) to Mecca, and almsgiving (zakat ).

Whereas sacrifice occupies an important place in theistic religions, it is by no means the only form of worship. In all the religions examined above, the reading and studying of the scripture constitutes an essential part of worship. In Hinduism, the study of the sacred books is combined with ascetic (tapas ) and meditation (yoga ) practices. In Judaism, after the destruction of the Temple and in the subsequent Diaspora, a class of nonpriestly leaders called rabbis sought to construct a system of worship in which the study of the Torah is a central mode of honoring God. This Torah piety also provides insights into the commandments (mitsvot ) that govern the lives of devout Jews. To replace the Temple sacrifices, the rabbis composed prayers for the use of their synagogues (such as the Prayer of Eighteen Blessings) and introduced the practice of reciting Deuteronomy 6:49 and 11:1331 and Numbers 15:3741 (the shma ). Worship is conducted in the presence of the Torah scroll, and the leader of the worship stands in front of the ark housing it. Another innovation is the public reading of the Torah and exposition of scripture. In Christian liturgy, scriptural readings, from the Old and New Testaments, are incorporated into the liturgy and are often followed by a homily. In Islam, the Qur$an is the object of ubiquitous veneration and devotion. Wrapped in silk, it is stored as the most sacred object in the room and must not be handled in a state of ritual impurity.

The reading of sacred scripture also plays a key role in other religions, such as Sikhism and Buddhism. The ĀdiGranth, draped in silk and placed on a cot under an awning, is the central object of worship in every Sikh gurdwārā, and offerings of money, flowers, and food are made to it. On special occasions there is nonstop recitation by a relay of readers. In Buddhism, the simplest act of devotion is homage in front of the image, usually of the Buddha, accompanied by an offering of flowers, incense, and candles. In this ritual the devotee, particularly in the Theravada tradition, takes refuge in the three jewels, that is, the Buddha, the dhamma (teaching), and the samgha (community). Because of the emphasis on the Buddhas teaching, one important component of Buddhist liturgy is the recitation and chanting of the sacred texts, such as the tipitaka. In Tibetan Buddhism, the reading by a monk of a specific text, often a version of the Prajñápáramitá in 100,000 verses or 8,000 verses, is done if possible once a year in each household to insure blessings for the family.

In addition to the official liturgy, other acts of worship, conventionally referred to as popular religion or devotion, play a no less important role in the piety of the faithful. Among these are fasting (e.g., during Ramadan for Muslims, during Lent for Christians, on certain festivals for Jews, and throughout the year for Buddhists), pilgrimage (e.g., the hajj for Muslims, circumambulation in Tibetan Buddhism, visits to sacred places for Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians), meditation (in yoga, Zen Buddhism, and Daoism), ancestor worship (in Confucianism) and the feeding of hungry ghosts (in Buddhism), veneration of saints (in Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy), the cult of relics and images (in Roman Catholicism and Buddhism), life-cycle rituals (the samskára in Hinduism and the sacraments in Christianity), the sanctification of time by means of the Liturgy of the Hours and the sacred calendar, the taking of vows, healing and exorcism, and so on.

Worship is the lifeblood of religion. Ever-changing and yet permanent, this universal phenomenon represents the response, both of the individual and the community, to the presence of God or a supernatural being. While historical and theological studies of worship have revealed much of its nature and developments, much still remains controversial, especially regarding the origins of worship and sacrifice, the relation between worship and ideology, the social dimensions of worship and devotion, the role of goddesses and women in worship, the relation between worship and personal cultivation in meditation, the relation between the local and translocal traditions of practice, and the impact of postmodernism and globalization on worship.

SEE ALSO Buddha; Buddhism; Christianity; Church, The; Hinduism; Islam, Shia and Sunni; Jainism; Jesus Christ; Judaism; Lay Theories; Muhammad; Nation of Islam; Religion; Rituals; Sikhism; Supreme Being; Symbols

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Beyer, Stephan. 1973. The Cult of Tárá: Magic and Ritual in Tibet. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Bradshaw, Paul, ed. 2002. The New Westminster Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox.

Cragg, Kenneth, and R. Marston Speight, eds. 1980. Islam from Within: Anthology of a Religion. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Faure, Bernard, ed. 2003. Chan Buddhism in Ritual Context.London and New York: Routledge Curzon.

Fink, Peter, ed. 1990. The New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.

Lopez, Donald, Jr., ed. 1997. Religions of Tibet in Practice.Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Phan, Peter C. 2004. Being Religious Interreligiously: Asian Perspectives on Interfaith Dialogue. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis.

Rodrigues, Hillary. 2003. Ritual Worship of the Great Goddess: The Liturgy of the Durgá Pújá with Interpretations. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Schipper, Kristofer. 1993. The Taoist Body. Trans. Karen C.Duval. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Wainwright, Geoffrey, and Karen B. Westerfield Tucker, eds.2006. The Oxford History of Christian Worship. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Peter C. Phan

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Worship

Worship. The offering of devotion, praise, and adoration to that which is deemed worthy of such offering, usually God. Worship of that which is less than God as though it is equivalent to God, especially if it is addressed to particular images, is idolatry. In non-theistic religious, worship is more usually expressed as gratitude to the enlightened guide or guides, as with Buddhists and Jains.

More often, however, worship is associated with the adoration of the supreme Being, the unproduced Producer of all that is, from whom all things and all events ultimately come, and to whom all things return. This sense of the transcendence of God necessarily evokes worship. From this sense of the absolute majesty, holiness, and supremacy of God derives Israel's life of worship, of the constant recognition of God in Temple, sacrifice, Psalms, pilgrimage, and eventually synagogue, liturgy, and Prayer Book—epitomized in kiddush ha-Shem. By wearing the tefillin, an observant Jew bears on his body a constant worship of God.

Christians inherited this sense of God's independence from, and yet concern for, the universe which he has created—and in particular they inherited the Psalms, which from the start informed their religious intelligence and became the backbone of prayer and devotion. But Christianity recognizes in Jesus the incarnate presence of God, through whom praise and worship is offered to the Father—in other (less contingent) words, transcendence and immanence are held together in the reality of Jesus’ own prayer.

Islam shares the Jewish sense of the absolute uniqueness and oneness (tawhīd) of God. Since this and its consequences (not least in belief and behaviour) are made known in the Qurʾān, the very chanting of the Qurʾān (even without a knowledge of what it means) becomes an act of worship. But the acknowledgement of God is so fundamental that it becomes a daily obligation in ṣalāt, and an annual obligation in ṣawm, the month-long fast in Ramaḍān—both of these being among the Five Pillars of Islam. But Muslim devotion goes far beyond obligation, spectacularly so in the case of the Sūfīs.

An attitude of worship and devotion is equally characteristic of Hindus and it defies brief description. Worship (pūjā) is held and sustained in the home (where there is likely to be a small shrine devoted to a particular deity), but it readily flows out into temples and shrines, and into many practices of particular devotion. Since Hindus in general believe that Brahman becomes manifest in many different ways, there are many different forms of the deity. More formal communal worship may be expressed through dance and drama, or through the singing in groups of kīrtana and bhajana (‘songs of praise’). These are usually associated with bhakti, a particularly powerful tradition of devotion and praise. But for the Hindu, the human relation to the divine is possible at all times: every circumstance can be an occasion of the divine. It is this which underlies the importance in worship of mantra, maṇḍala, and yantra. For the Hindu, worship is as natural as birth and death: it is the bridge which connects the one to the other.

See also YASNA.

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worship

wor·ship / ˈwərshəp/ • n. the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity: the worship of God ancestor worship. ∎  the acts or rites that make up a formal expression of reverence for a deity; a religious ceremony or ceremonies: the church was opened for public worship. ∎  adoration or devotion comparable to religious homage, shown toward a person or principle: Krushchev threw the worship of Stalin overboard. ∎ archaic honor given to someone in recognition of their merit. ∎  [as title] (His/Your Worship) chiefly Brit. used in addressing or referring to an important or high-ranking person, esp. a magistrate or mayor: we were soon joined by His Worship the Mayor. • v. (-shiped , -ship·ing ; also -shipped, -ship·ping) [tr.] show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor with religious rites: the Maya built jungle pyramids to worship their gods. ∎  treat (someone or something) with the reverence and adoration appropriate to a deity: she adores her sons and they worship her. ∎  [intr.] take part in a religious ceremony: he went to the cathedral because he chose to worship in a spiritually inspiring building. DERIVATIVES: wor·ship·er (also wor·ship·per) n.

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worship

worship (arch.) good name, credit, dignity, importance; respect shown OE.; veneration of a power held divine XIII. OE. weorðsċipe, wurð-, wyrð-, f. weorð WORTH2 + -sċipe -SHIP.
Hence worship vb. XII. ME. worpshipie. worshipful XIII; as an honorific title XIV.

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Worship

Worship

of writers: authors collectivelyBk. of St. Albans, 1486.

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worship

worshipblip, chip, clip, dip, drip, equip, flip, grip, gyp, harelip, hip, kip, lip, nip, outstrip, pip, quip, rip, scrip, ship, sip, skip, slip, snip, strip, tip, toodle-pip, trip, whip, yip, zip •biochip • microchip • woodchip •sheepdip • skinny-dip • rosehip •landslip • payslip •fillip, Philip •gymslip • side-slip • polyp • oxlip •cowslip • pillowslip •julep, tulip •Cudlipp • paperclip • catnip • parsnip •turnip • handgrip • cantrip • hairgrip •airstrip • filmstrip • kirby grip •weatherstrip • gossip • airship •midship • kinship • godship • warship •gunship • worship • wingtip •fingertip • horsewhip • bullwhip •bunyip

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