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Words for Worship // Holy Latrine


Well, we’ve made it 25% of the way! two words down, 6 more to go. And today we’re going to tackle one of the most common Greek words for worship, Latreuein (a-tray-oo- ay-ine. It’s kind of like latrine, but not nearly as, um…… never mind…..

Latreuein is also one of the simplest words to translate. It has a very specific meaning, service. That is the long and short of the word. Take one simple example, Romans 12:1

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is you spiritual worship (latreian).”


While all of that is definitely true, there are some parts, actually quite a bit, of the New Testament that the translation can really be rendered in only a couple of ways, and one way seems much more obvious than others. This is one of those passages.

What makes it that way is when you approach the concept of worship with a biblical perspective. What is worship? that is really the question that this little series of posts seeks to answer. There’s some great little tidbits of information here, but what is really the point? IT’s simple: Worship IS service.

I was on a mission trip to Haiti (on which I did buy the token guys mission trip souvenir, a machete) and we were working with poor people. I know that some of you were just shocked by the fact that there are poor people in Haiti… I digress. One of the tasks we were to do was to build a wood frame building over a new latrine that was being built.

As our luck would have it, the digging had ground to a halt (see what I did there? digging…. ground….) So when we arrived, the hole was four feet deep. So three of us white boys who work in offices and two Haitian men spent three days digging this hole. It ended up being 18 feet deep.

Let me tell you, that’s a deep hole. We dug it completely by hand…… and were at the point where we would break up the dirt, which was more like rock, and then fill a 5 gallon bucket up and then a guy on the top would pull the bucket of dirt/rock up by a homemade rope out 18 feet down in this hole and dump the dirt. Then he would lower the bucket back down the hole.

Pretty simple, huh? I think so. And honestly, it really is that simple. This word is translated as worship or service, almost interchangeably.

But wait, there’s more….. right? I mean it can’t be THAT easy. I thought that all this Greek stuff required that you have to know all these word usages and suffixes and everything else to truly understand the meaning of a passage.

It was so deep that we lowered a ladder down in the hole by said home made rope, climbed down the rope to the top of the ladder, to climb down into the hole to dig. No bueno.

So what’s the big deal with digging this latrine? Well, the community we were doing this for had never had an indoor toilet. ever. no outhouse, public restroom, anything. They just found a bush out in the wilderness and did their thing. The missionary we worked with on the project sent us pictures about 3 months later and there was a line that formed of about 200 people who walked from miles away to come see the indoor bathroom.

This latrine we dug was about 100 feet downwind from the church in the community. That’s the punchline. We dug a potty out in the middle of nowhere in Haiti and all these people came and the pastor made it his duty stand out there and talk to every single one of those folks waiting to use the restroom.

We worshiped God by serving. We helped that pastor bring in hundreds to his church by simply providing a bathroom. Service is simple. Its often times physical, but ALWAYS spiritual.

Where is God leading you to dig a latreuein latrine?

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