Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Heart of Worship

The church of St. Trophime in Arles, France is my favorite sacred space in the world. The cloister attached to it and pictured above is where I have spent countless hours over the years pondering, photographing and writing about the nature of sacred space. It has caused me to read deeply into the meaning of sacred architecture and liturgical history. Liturgical time and lectionary readings have become a heart-beat of sorts to my soul, a gps for my spiritual wandering. Vestments and colors, responses and chants grew on me. I was reappropriating foreign, Catholic things into my protestant, pietist heritage. And then I moved to California.
Gone were the robes and processional anthem. Gone were the pipe organ and choir. Gone was the rich diet of hymnody and ancient responses. Instead I was called to a church with guitar led worship, drums and piano. Musical notes were not read but words were put on screens and melodies were learned. And as strange a foreign as it all was, I discovered I was still worshiping richly and deeply; still loving the ancient and the historic, the musically rich and sophisticated, but also the percussive and contemporary harmonizations. I find myself being stretched in new and exciting ways into new shapes of sacred and worshipful.
But tonight was a new level for me. I was invited to lead a worship service at the county jail. One chaplain led a much larger Spanish-speaking service and I led an English-speaking service with about 6 guys. Because of security concerns, the only thing we can bring in is a boom box. Do you have any idea how much boom-box worship music I have? ZERO! I had to borrow a boom box and a CD from Calvary Chapel. It is really, really not my kind of music.
But the 6 guys gathered in the locked room and sang; badly, loudly and all from deep in the heart. "Lord prepare me, to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true." They called off numbers and they sang out with all their might. I was moved to tears at the level and raw depth of worship. We talked through the story of the woman at the well and forgiving others 7 X 70 and then I prayed for them.
Whew! Now that was worship!


At 7:50 AM , Blogger Gary Means said...

This beautiful post spoke to my soul on many levels. Thank you.


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