Brothers and sisters,
As we start this new year, one of the things that has been on my mind a lot has been worship. Why do we worship? Why do we do the things we do in worship? What does our worship say about our relationship with God? As part of that process of thinking and wondering, I made my way back to an old favorite book of mine, Worship Come to Its Senses by Don Saliers. The book is short, but it asks a lot of good questions and offers a lot of meaningful insights into what it means to worship.
In fact, the book is so interesting, we are reading through it and talking about it during our Wednesday night meetings (you’re welcome to join us!). Last week, January 4th, we took a look at the introduction to the book and pondered this double question that Saliers offers, “What makes Chris-tian worship true and relevant, and how can our liturgical gatherings shape and express authentic Christian faith and life in the world of everyday?” (p. 13-14). And so, I wanted to offer you all some of my own opinion on those two questions. First, what makes Christian worship true and relevant comes down to the fact that we believe that God is present with us in worship. We cling to Christ’s promise that whenever Christians gather together, God is with them. And so the truth of any worship service comes from God. The service must be rooted in God or it can never begin to approach truth. The relevance of worship, then, has to come from us understanding that the God we encounter in worship is the same God we meet in our everyday lives. Worship is not something we do from 11:00-12:00 on Sun-day morning. The actions, the attitudes, the affirmations have to make their way out the door and into the world. Otherwise, worship is irrelevant at best.
That answer bleeds over into my opinion on the second part of Saliers’ double question—how can our liturgical gatherings shape and express authentic Christian faith and life in the world of everyday? I think the best way to answer this question is with an illustration. On Communion Sundays, we ask folks to grab a communion cup as they are coming into worship. The ushers don’t force anyone to take a cup, but they also don’t “verify” that a person “should” get a communion cup or not. They simply offer the cup. Because communion isn’t about making sure we’re worshiping with the “right” people. It’s about worshiping with everyone. As part of the liturgy on Communion Sundays, you’ll usu-ally hear me say something like, “The invitation to this table does not come from me or Hope Valley; it comes from Christ himself.” And that’s the truth. Christ calls us to share a meal with each other when we come to worship, regardless of who has come to worship. We fellowship together without asking questions. In other words, communion teaches us to love our neighbors regardless of who they are. It teaches us that grace is available to everyone because grace comes from God, not from us. It reminds us that Jesus understands the importance of fellowship and pushes us to create spaces of community together. That aspect of worship can genuinely affect our daily living in such a way that others see God through us—if we let worship shape our lives.
So, I offer Saliers’ double question to you all—what makes Christian worship true and relevant, and how can our liturgical gatherings shape and express authentic Christian faith and life in the world of everyday?
Grace and peace,