Saturday, June 20, 2015

Being the Church Today: Worship

What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let them be silent in church and speak to themselves and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to someone else sitting nearby, let the first person be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged. And the spirits of prophets are subject to the prophets, for God is a God not of disorder but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14

Worship is central and core to who I am.  It often feels like my week leads up to, climaxes at Sunday morning worship.  Monday is a chance to reflect prayerfully on what went well and what could be better.  Tuesday starts the cycle over again.  Sunday morning worship can feel like a production.  There are many moving parts: choir, children lighting candles, people reading, the congregation singing, someone playing the organ, a sermon, a prayer, ushers collecting the offering, greeters welcoming, and that is not to even touch on the different needs and variety of emotions that gather in the sanctuary every single Sunday.  There is lots going on.  It can feel like trying to conduct an orchestra, trying to contain holy chaos.  

Soren Kierkegaard would say that worship is a drama.  But, it is NOT the pastor or even the choir who are the actors.  Kierkegaard said it was the people who were the actors.  Let's face it, in some of our churches, I am not sure our actors feel very engaged.  The pastor and choir and organist are more like prompters or directors.  God is the audience.  I have always contended that God can also be the holy prompter in our midst.  Just as at Pentecost, when the disciples caught wind of the new thing God was doing, God can swirl and stir in our Sunday morning worship. Yet, how many of us really expect or even want that?  Would we, honestly, prefer to sit back and arm chair quarter back the whole service, like we are at the theater?  Would we rather play critic and give the various components a "thumbs up or down"?  It is easier role for us.  It is difficult because what opens you to worship is NOT what opens someone else.  Some like silence, some what to check in with their neighbor and see how their procedure went.  Some like familiar hymns, some like to sing a new song.  Some like to laugh, others are more somber.  So, I know that.  But the question is, how do we plan worship?

If you take Paul seriously, it would mean there would be no worship bulletin.  You'd gather on Sunday, and if someone had a song on her heart, she would offer it.  Another would stand up and testify.  Another would speak in tongues.  Another still might interpret that moment.  Another might say, "Let's sing another verse of In the Garden."  It would be holy chaos.  Or to some reading this blog, just plain chaos.

So, what is your expectation of worship?  Seriously, we need to talk about this in church.  And not just talk in the sense of everyone come, dump a bunch of ideas on a table, then walk out the door for the pastor to deal with...that is NOT helpful to anyone.  If liturgy (which means the work of the people) is to reflect the hopes and dreams of the people we need to constantly be talking about our expectations for this hour on Sunday morning.  I hope and pray you will find time to do this in your faith community in the coming weeks.  I know I will do so in mine.  I pray for the sake of the world God so loves, we will find more than a trace of God's grace in such dialogue.

Blessings and pax

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