Who Is The Audience?

Who is the audience in Christian Worship?  Is God the audience in worship or are we the audience in worship?  
Who does the speaking in Christian Worship?  Do we speak to God in worship or does God speak to us?
 “It has often been taught that we speak to God in worship; that we summon his presence and offer Him praise.  This view sees God as the audience of our worship.  However, this is a pagan concept of worship.  In pagan worship, the worshiper comes before his or her god to bring offerings and to present requests in order to please the particular god and get the god to respond to the worshiper in the way the worshiper desires (Lev. 10:1-3; Jer. 32:35; Ps. 78:56-59)

Christian worship is the exact opposite.  God is the speaker.  We are the audience.  He has called and invited us before Him; He has called and invited us before Him together so that He can talk with us.  In both the Old and New Testament worship God’s Word, that speaks to us, is central to the gathering.  (Ex. 29:42; Neh. 9:1-4; Acts 2:14-47)

God speaks and we listen and respond.  Through His Word, the Bible, God shows His character and His works.  He speaks to us about our sin and about the way of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.  We respond to Him through a variety of ways.  These include: showing remorse for sin (Isaiah 30:15); confessing (Psalm 32:5); trusting (Psalm 13:5); praying (1 Thess. 5:16-18); offering ourselves (Romans 12:1); praising (Psalm 145) and thanking (Psalm 106:1)”[1]

How does this fresh way of looking at worship impact us as worshippers?  Quite frankly it grants me freedom, rest, assurance, and it gracefully compels me to want to attend church worship services on Sundays rather than resorting to a routine ‘have to’ attitude! 
Just think about it!  If God is the speaker in worship and we are the audience that means that God is the active one on Sunday Mornings.  The worship service depends on God doing the verbs, God descending to us, God being present in the worship service and God reaching out to us with His grace and mercy through His Word (i.e. means of grace)
What does this mean for our heart attitudes and motivations for attending a worship service on Sunday morning?  Do we wake up, shower up, fancy up in order to ‘give’ God our best in going to worship?  Do we need an extra cup of coffee so that we can muster up an extra decibel of a Sunday morning worship accolade in order to appease God as our audience?  Is God like Simon of American Idol and we are the contestant under the spot light?  Of course not!  
-The pressure is not on us to perform for we aren’t even the ones doing the speaking in worship.
-The pressure is on God to perform for He is the one who speaks on Sunday mornings. 

This changes everything!
Because God is the speaker in Sunday morning worship, we go to Sunday services not to ‘give’ our best but to ‘receive’ God’s best… Christ in the Word and Sacraments.  We get to go to worship in our deadness in order that we might be touched by God through the proclamation of the Word.  We go to worship so that God can minister the Gospel to our souls. 
After God ministers and touches our hearts with His grace, a free response of worship can then come forth. 
God Speaks, We Receive, Which Results in Response…  Worship!

[1] Bethel Lutheran Church Word and Worship Committee, (Fergus Falls, MN, May 9 of 2006)