In a staff meeting last week one of my colleagues said, "It's not always easy to practice." He was talking about our amazing Sanctuary Choir's commitment to practicing their craft even when they do not much feel like doing so. Their practice shows in the manner in which they offer their gifts and talents each week as a part of the worship life of the congregation. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to live into this kind of commitment.
Even though my colleague's words were geared toward those who are practicing crescendos and dissonant chords, they are also meaningful for faith practices. It is indeed not always easy to practice the faith. This is especially true when you do not feel much like doing so.
Getting up and going to worship is a difficult thing when you are in college. Early classes throughout the week and late nights on the weekends make it incredibly tough. And you lose even more of your motivation when you do go and feel as though you don't get anything out of it.
Have you ever been sitting in the pew or padded chair on Sunday morning or Sunday night when you found yourself wishing you were somewhere else? Have you ever wished that you could nonchalantly slide off the pew, down the aisle and out the door because you feel guilty for even being there? Have you ever had your mind drift away onto some project, assignment or random to do list just as the sermon was about to start?
Maybe it is just me...
It is not always easy to practice the faith. This is especially true when you do not feel much like doing so.
Worship is the center of our faith life. It is what we are to be about as people. Worship is our opportunity to offer ourselves to God and give God glory and praise. In worship God is both the subject and the object. Worship is to be a selfless act where we as people offer ourselves to the Divine. As a result of this offering our lives are indeed transformed.
During this season of Lent, try renewing your commitment to worship. Here are some suggestions that may help you and your friends as you worship...
1. Make a commitment to sit with someone new in the sanctuary; someone you do not know. It is a beautiful thing to sit next to people of all ages as they express themselves in worship and experience the power and presence of the divine.
2. Take time before you enter the sanctuary or just before the service begins to center yourself and open your heart and mind to the movement of the Holy Spirit. Say a brief prayer. Have a moment of silence with your friends or family before you get out of the car or enter the building.
3. Don't panic if you or someone near you makes a random noise or gets a case of the giggles. It happens to all of us. Relax. Worship isn't about perfection. It is about presence and practice. Be patient. Enjoy yourself.
4. Allow space to wonder about what is going on in the service both in its liturgy and inside you.
5. Take some time to reflect on or write about what you experience in worship. What was most meaningful? What are your questions? Where did you sense the presence of God during the service of worship?
6. Practice worship throughout your life. Worship can happen in many settings. Sing hymns, songs and psalms (sometimes at the top of your lungs in the car). Sit together outside and experience nature's song of joy. Read Scripture aloud and listen to the words.
7. Allow all you do to be a grateful response of worship; your work, your play, your studying, your life.
Corporate worship is an integral part of our life as the Body of Christ. Enjoy it. Remember, it isn't what you get out of worship that is the most important thing. Worship is about us offering ourselves to God and giving God the praise that is due.