Fasting. Service. Giving. Now, worship. At times in this series on the spiritual disciplines, I worry that I am just nagging you, trying to get you to do the things that you “should” do. Perhaps the better approach is that these practices are the windows of your spiritual life. Opening them creates an opportunity for the fresh wind of God’s spirit to blow through your life, and opening more than one creates a cross-breeze that can even change the temperature of the house.
Worship is one practice that has been radically altered during the pandemic. We are all longing for the experience of being in our sanctuaries, filled with the chatter of friends and congregants, echoing with music and the laughter brought on by a baby being baptized, or a good joke from the preacher. 😉
In theory, worship is something we can do anytime, any place. To worship is “to give worth, love, and admiration to someone or something.”(1) It is to center our focus away from distraction and on to the thing our heart desires. What makes Christian worship unique is that our worship of God is a response. God ignites a spark, and we respond to it—perhaps in a breathtaking moment in nature, we pause to adore and give thanks for such beauty, given so lavishly. Perhaps worship is sometimes as simple as noticing and acknowledging all that God has done. We may sing about it, we may say thank you, or we may take up the gift God has given and use it—in dancing, in exercising, in writing, or painting. All of this can be worship.
Ah, but we miss our Sanctuary. More than a longing for the usual routines of life, I miss the heart swell of Sunday morning, and the powerful punch of energy I receive there that carries me through the week. I miss the feeling that Thomas Kelly described in a worship service: “wrapped in a sense of unity and of Presence such as quiets all words and enfolds us within an unspeakable calm and interconnectedness within a vaster life…” I know what he means. But truthfully, I have felt a new version of that with you on Sunday mornings. As I look at your sea of faces, I am caught up in togetherness with you. Humbled by the limitations of my humanity in the face of this virus, as we pray each week I have been more present to the interconnectedness of all life, and my small place in the big work of God. And I marvel at the God who makes staring at a screen transform into an experience of presence and peace. Unexpected worship.
Together and apart, I hope you’ll make a practice of noticing and responding to the God who created and sustains this beautiful life, giving praise to the one who is with you now and always.
See you Sunday (on screen)!
(1) Nathan Foster. The Making of an Ordinary Saint, (Ada: Baker Books, 2014),169.