Thursday, August 4, 2011

Worship

Worship.

What’s the point? Why do we go to church? Why do we go to this particular church? Why do we like this style or that one? Why do we get so upset when others want to worship in a style different from our own? Why do we care?

Worship. Is worship about us? Or is worship about God? Does God really care what we do in worship, or is he happy to have any attention he can get?

Worship. What is it, anyway?

Worship. If only we could definitively answer all of these questions. If we could just answer one or two we’d be well on our way to finding God. If we could just get a glimpse of how the angels and saints worship around the throne of heaven. If we could just get a glimpse of how worship will be after Christ’s return.

Sadly, we’re not perfect, and we don’t have all the answers. So maybe we should do the best we can with what we have. Only we’re not. We’re fighting instead.

Worship. It raises passions like nothing else can. Mention changing worship in most churches and immediately people are on the war path. Mention that the worship service isn’t that great and suddenly people are looking daggers at you. Suggest that someone’s favorite way of worshiping might not be the only way and you get angry words in return. Why is something that is supposed to be all about love filled with so much hate?

Our preferences and biases get in the way. We, the wonderful creatures of habit that we are, tend to want to do what we remember from our childhood. We also want it to be predictably the same from week to week, season to season, year to year. We get upset when things are not the way we expect them to be.

Worship. It should be a part of us. We give it lip service. We say we truly worship. We say we want to worship the way God wants to be worshiped. But are we telling the truth, or are we lying to ourselves? Do we know how God wants to be worshiped? It is quite interesting that God always seems to want to be worshiped in the manner and style that we ourselves like to worship. As though everyone else has it wrong. And worship as a part of us? Who gives it a second thought outside of Sunday morning?

There are things we can do to make it better. For one thing, we should become aware of the liturgical year. The rhythms of the church year should become the rhythms of our own lives. For another, we should adopt a rhythm of daily prayer and Scripture reading. There are many resources available for this, but the 1979 Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church is a great place to begin. It’s even available for free online. A third thing we can do is to take some time and question, really question, why we worship the way we do. Begin with the questions above. Struggle with them. Don’t just accept a pat answer from yourself. Argue. Try to see it from the opposite perspective. Find people with other perspectives and discuss it with them. Open your mind to new possibilities. Explore different styles and ways of doing things.

But above all, spend some quality time with God, asking him how he wants to be worshiped. Then hush and listen.

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