In a sermon entitled “Praise, One of the Chief Employments of Heaven,” Jonathan Edwards explained, “Let it be considered that the church on earth is the same society with those saints who are praising God in heaven. There is not one church of Christ in heaven and another here upon earth.” This means that when the church gathers for worship, it engages in a heavenly activity. The worshiping church does not merely imitate what goes on in heaven. It participates in heaven’s worship. Like one who walks into the church sanctuary after the service has started, those who worship on earth move into something that is already in progress. We take up a theme that was begun by others before the throne of God, adding our voices to theirs.
Consequently, the worshiping church is part of a much larger congregation. It is one that includes patriarchs and prophets, saints and angels. No wonder Edwards called worship “the work of heaven” and observed, “If we begin now to exercise ourselves in the work of heaven, it will be the way to have foretastes of the enjoyments of heaven.”