Saturday, March 31, 2012

Worship...a call for terms

A term that makes me pause more and more is the word "worship." In a recent article in "Relevant" magazine website, the author commented on musical skills in worship with the phrase "the worship leader" opens his mouth.
The problem I see is that we are increasingly aligning the word "worship" with the activity of singing and music. Now clearly that is a crucial part of worship. The worship arts director on staff with me is truly excellent, gifted and sensitive to the whole act of worship. But worship does not end when the worship team leaves the chancel. Worship is so much more than the music. Worship incorporates music, vocal and instrumental and then goes deeper and farther.
In some churches the parts of a Sunday are: worship, prayer, announcements and teaching. The word "preaching" has been eclipsed by "teaching." Certainly there are parts of every sermon I preach that entail teaching moments: facts about Judaism, the Roman Empire, current cultural trends and word studies in Hebrew and Greek. But there is more than facts being conveyed onto an outline. Preaching is that mysterious collaboration between the pastor, Holy Spirit and congregation. It demands embracing mystery and uncertainty. It acknowledges that we work hard, but let go of control; that God is at work in deeper and more wonderful ways than we can anticipate.
And worship is so much more that the preaching time. I'm impressed that it begins on Saturday as we anticipate and prepare for the day, reading the texts and, if available, looking at images. It happens in the parking lot as we see friends and strangers emerging from their cars and we do or don't greet them. It's the welcome at the door, calling strangers by name and recognizing the children and grandparents. Worship happens when we stop talking and engage in some silence and stillness (a short commodity today). Worship happens when we put cash and checks into offering plates and fight the stranglehold of money on our lives. Worship happens in the stillness after sermons and the prayers with others after the benediction. I would venture that worship happens at lunch with friends after church, as we debrief, critique (it happens!) and explore what God is doing in our lives.
"Come let us worship and bow down!"


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