May 15, 2013

And just a little more on the subject of worship

Still thinking a lot about the subject of worship. Recently, I've written a couple things on the subjet of "worship." And then I participated in a conference over the last few days in which attendees heard from Ruth Meyers on the same subject. One of the best aspects of any conference are the hallway conversations. In one this week, a clergy person and I were talking about worship as a journey. It brought to mind Elizabeth O'Connor's use of the terms that titled a wonderful book of her's, Journey Inward, Journey Outward. Journey's change us, change how we look at life–at least mine, moving across the country certainly did. There's something going on with worship that ought to take us somewhere.

I've shared before my love for the work of Rainer Marie Rilke. And as I've been thinking about worship these days and what happens during worship–no matter the formate/genre–I've found myself thinking about this favorite Rilke line of mine:
"You said live out loud, and die you said lightly, and over and over again you said be."—Rainer Marie Rilke, Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God
Rilke’s poem displays three important "aspects" of the act of worship. So, I hacked O'Conner's terms, was inspired by Rilke's poem and delved into some thoughts on worship as follows. All three aspects occur within the realm of real life–worship is never void of context. The intent is to change how we look at life’s journey–not replace it or delete it.

The first aspect is the journey together. Worship ought to “lighten” or diminish the impact of death. Death is isolation. When Jesus’ dies on the cross he cries out, “God, why have you looked away from me?!” He is alone. We die alone. Worship fights death by declaring that we are not alone.

The second aspect is the journey inward. Worship ought to assist us in simply being. We live in a world that measures our worth by what we do. When we worship we are reminded that we are as Eugene Peterson writes, “God-begotten” or as Henri Nouwen writes, “God’s beloved.” We can rest in that reality. Worship takes us out of the fray of doing and calls us to simply be in God’s presence in every moment.

The last aspect is the journey outward. Worship ought to take our declaration against death and confidence of presence before God and challenge us to “live out loud” before a watching world. By doing so, we display before others how life should be lived; or, in other words together we give a glimpse a God’s Kingdom--life lived how God intended us to.


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