Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Don't Hate the Player

Worship gets a bad wrap... or maybe an insufficient one? For those who have grown up in church, worship is usually an hour on Sunday morning. More recently, it's come to be just the songs you sing during that hour. I can't speak for the meaning of worship to those who haven't grown up in church, I've been attending worship services all my life.

Is it peculiar we call them worship services? Doesn't service imply an action? Most Christian worship services I've attended are basically passive. We might be invited to stand or bow our heads or sing along, but they're awfully static.

What is worship supposed to be? The idea of service indicates something we do. My understanding of theology indicates it's something we do in response to something God does and with the expectation that God will do something else.

We gather because God has created us and the world around us and has embodied love for us. My tradition believe that in all times and all places the Spirit of God is calling out to all people. Our acts (service) of worship are a response to that calling. Likewise, we act in specific ways (although our ways might could use with some greater creativity). We do so with expectation that in these acts God will shape us and form us into the likeness of Jesus Christ, who is and embodies all we were created to be.

That, conveniently, brings me to the not so subtle, nor unintentional question that springs from such a lengthy introduction: why is our service of worship an hour on Sunday mornings (or in the case of hipsters and non-English services, Sunday afternoon, evening or Saturday night)? And if our acts of worship allow God to shape and form us into Christ, what do the other acts we do the other 167 hours do for us (or to us)?

I'd like to get away from acts of worship overtly connected to a structure - not that structure is bad, it's completely necessary - but an institutionalized structure tends to have us looking over our shoulder for permission to do something different. Is there a way to engage in a life of worship as the overarching organizational element and subsume structure as merely an element?

I don't want to downplay the importance of corporate worship. I believe wholeheartedly that we cannot exist purely as individuals, nor were we ever meant to do so. We need connection and community; we need corporate worship. We even need to sing together, pray together, confess together, read scripture together, and receive a sermon together. It's just that we also need to live together, eat together, serve together, mourn together, argue together, doubt together, and just sit together.

What if worship was more than something we do?

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