Friday, March 30, 2012

To Be or to Buy?

New feature on the blog, folks! We're taking questions! Well, sort of. A friend send me a message on Facebook asking me to comment on some thoughts he'd been having; I saw it as an opportunity to fill space here as I'm running short on ideas at the moment. Feel free to send questions my way and I'll try to find a way to answer them in a lengthy, yet thoughtful way.

And so...

I struggle with the liturgy/order of worship. I am talking about the commercialistic nature of it all and I'm sure you know what I mean... The whole mindset of, "let's have a 'good' service today" approach. I guess what messes with me is when you compare that to an Orthodox or RC mass, the mindset of most people is much different. It is purely to come to worship and receive Christ through the Eucharist. There is no evaluation of the band or if Father Joe 'connects with me or not.' At a gut level it just messes with me that the degree of people's worship has rests so heavily on a worship leader or a preacher. Again, it seems so Walmart-like... Who can present me with the best product?

My initial reaction is to say that high church traditions might be, to us low church evangelicals, a bit like the grass always being grenier on the other side of the fence. I've heard plenty of Catholics and Anglicans complain about the disconnect they have with the worship, that they don't, in fact, feel connected to anything beyond the level of familiarity.

In this, I think, we might find common ground in our complaints. It is our very familiarity with whatever liturgy our tradition embraces often leads to the desire to incorporate parts of other traditions (high church traditions can use some connection to the present and low church traditions can use some connection to the past). It is likely beneficial to broaden our horizons and include a wide variety of practices in worship drawn from beyond our own traditions. However, I'm not sure that really solves the problem expressed.

The deeper issue is likely engagement. Too often we feel as though worship is something we observe rather than something we embody. In a culture than functions to turn us from humans into consumers, it is our natural reaction to consume worship. We are defined by what we buy, eat, wear, use - and therefore our worship should be the most perfect and the coolest - so we can't do it ourselves; we're not good enough.

Despite a culture that forms us to consume, we do have an inherent, human need for connection - real connection, both with each other and with God. Corporate worship is the time we set aside to gather as God's people to be formed into the likeness of Christ. I take that purpose literally; the Church is the real body of Christ. It requires real participation - and, like our humanity, requires both physical and spiritual participation.

I think a lot of our issues in worship could be solved by honestly answering one question: what does our liturgy say about God? Not what we want it to say about God, but what our acts of worship really communicate. The answer is really into what we're being formed.

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