upper room daily devotions

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

worship and love

Bishop Will Willimon has posted on his blog a Peculiar Prophet a great article about the function of worship. It is in response to an email question submitted to him and is called "Why Do Worship?" It begins:
Frankly, I just don’t get much out of the Sunday morning thing. A lot of the time, I like the music, particularly when it’s contemporary. But there is a lot that goes on Sunday morning that doesn’t do much for me. Am I supposed to feel something? I would think that being a Christian is more than sitting and listening. It is also doing. What is the good of the praying and the singing and the sitting and listening?

What is the chief end of humanity?

The proper answer from the Westminster Confession: The chief end of humanity is...
Read the whole article.

Liturgical worship places this love in the midst of a long tradition of loving God. That is why we respectfully stand for portions of the service, follow a certain order of service, and why we return time and again to our sacraments and rituals. How liturgy and love interplay is worth a great deal of exploration. Perhaps they sometimes diverge. It is, of course, always possible for liturgy that once glorified God to simply function as a relic of the past. We need to always be intentional about the ways in which we live into our liturgy and be mindful about how we introduce newcomers (and old hats, for that matter) to liturgy. Liturgy exists to point us ever closer to God and to bring us into closer and closer relationship. When it doesn't, we lost the act of loving God as the primary goal of worship.


RevErikaG said...

Do you think that some of what we do in liturgy gets lost in translation? I have a congregation full of folks who did not grow up in the church and don't necessarily understand the nuances of how liturgy and certain acts help us glorify God.
I guess this goes to ask, if liturgy is the work of the people, can we adapt, accept, change this work to help others glorify and love God?

rev katie m ladd said...

Great question. How much is our responsibility to introduce people to the rituals and how much is our responsibility to adapt them over time? Not sure, but it seems as if we haven't done either for a long time!

Mystical Seeker said...

Interesting topic. I wonder what it is that I get out of worship myself. And yet I find myself repeatedly drawn towards going back, and I feel like I've missed something if I don't go to church on Sunday.

On the other hand, as one with a Quaker background, I am drawn to contemplative worship as a means of drawing myself closer to God. That is why I like Taize, also. The music and the standing up and the sermon during conventional worship services are all just part of an overall communal worship experience for me. It isn't the individual acts themselves so much as being part of a community of worship that seems to draw me there. Actually, I haven't quite figured out what it is that keeps me going to services. :)

rev katie m ladd said...

Fascinating reflection. I, too, consider myself rather contemplative, although there's enough of a southerner in me to find great meaning in lively, gospel music oriented worship. You're on to something regarding ritual bringing us into community...I'll have to think on that further.

Sista Cala said...

Great post. Coming from a 'pentecostal' background, I knew very little of liturgy until I inspected it for myself. It truly does bring you closer to God in mind, body, and soul. I've added you to my favs list.

rev katie m ladd said...

Thanks. Come back again and again! I'd love to know how people come to fall in love with liturgy, or, more accurately, how they fall in love with God via liturgy. Worship can be a holy act of offering love to the one who first loves us.

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