The What and Who of Meandering About

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lent as a time for worship

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.

4 comments:

  1. Brian, I love you, and I love your blog posts, but I had trouble relating to this one in particular. Sunday morning services just don't feel like worship to me; they feel like High School Zoology. I show up because I have to. I do what I am told, and I go through the motions as I daydream of all the places I'd rather be.

    To me worship is a Monday spent on the farm, tending to life as it transforms. To me worship is breaking bread, uncorking wine, and lingering in casual conversation with my closest friends.
    If worship is a genuinely joyful response to everyday life, then I do not find in Church on Sunday Morning.

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  2. Karl,
    Thank you. I love you too and am thrilled that you are reading the blog. I am also really excited that you are willing to comment.
    I think there is a lot to chew on here. I agree that worship does not have to be done on Sunday morning. I said so much in the blog (see #6 and #7). I do agree that there are things about the worship life of many congregations that may seem old and stale. However, I also know that there is indeed an irreplaceable piece to communal worship.
    The preacher may not always be engaging. The songs may not be sung on key. The liturgy may not strike seem to be quite on target. We all would be guilty of these on occasion, if not more often. The point I was attempting to make (and granted may not have done so effectively) was that there is more going on there than just these things. The people of God have gathered together with one purpose, to worship God. They are not going to do so perfectly, but the discipline is still worth the struggle. Litrugy itself is "the work of the people."
    My challenge to myself is that I go to worship to receive for sure. However, I must go primarily to give. I need to hear the voices of those gathered around me as they say the creed. I need to say hello and offer the peace of Christ to those who have gathered. I need the disciplined space in my life to focus and give of myself to God with others who have gathered to do the same.
    It is a discipline. It can be hard. This is especially the times when I would rather not do it.
    Continue to linger in conversation with bread, wine, and close friends. Continue to spend monday on the farm, tending to life as it transforms. These, according to Calvin, are indeed worship! All we do is to be considered a worshipful response. This includes our gathering - as broken and human as it can often be.
    Peace, my friend!
    I love these conversations.
    Brian

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  3. My comment in no way meant to suggest that you or anyone else who values sunday morning service should not try to find meaning in it. If you believe it is always worthy of desire even when it isn't always desirable, then by all means find ways to make it more meaningful.

    I merely meant to think through in writing, why I don't feel like sitting in the pews on Sunday Morning. I am Lazy? Maybe. I am arrogant? Probably, but I just don't believe traditional worship is a worthwhile use of my time. And it's not about songs out of key or boring sermons or even antique creeds. It's about feeling voiceless. It's about being silenced. I am always spoken to, and when I am asked to speak it's always already prepared by someone I do not know.

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  4. Your comment wasn't heard or taken that way. I know you well enough to know that which you write and say grows out of your journey. That is one of the reasons why I love our conversations.
    It is my prayer that you not only get the opportunity to be heard but that you continue to discover your voice.
    Brian

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