Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Step Outside Your Box

This is primarily an encouragement to my brothers and sisters at New Cov. If you've got questions or comments, you can sure leave them on this blog. But a better response would be to give me a call. Let's get a cup of coffee or lunch and talk about this.

Today marked the start of my Doctor of Worship Studies (DWS) coursework from The Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies. As with every semester I spent here working on my Master of Worship Studies, we began our time together with an Opening Convocation. It was a full worship service in an Episcopal Church, including lectionary readings, corporate prayers, "passing of the peace," and Holy Communion. Keep in mind that the school is not Episcopal. But one of the churches that hosts us is, and they welcome us each semester by inviting us in to their church.

I wish you could experience what I experienced tonight.

We are a contemporary church. I love it. I love worshiping with passion, singing current songs that move me and draw me to the Father. I love our atmosphere. I've heard over and over how people feel welcome at New Cov.

An Episcopal service is almost a polar opposite of what we experience each week (in terms of worship style and structure). And yet...

It was so moving, so full of God's presence. It dripped with vitality and authenticity. Whether singing a communion song by Matt Maher or a hymn from the Liturgy of St. James, whether kneeling to pray or raising my hands to praise, God's presence was as real and as incredible as ever I've known.

The architecture: the room is shaped like a cross; the vaulted ceilings remind us of the heavenly realms; the inversion of which would look like a boat to remind us of the ark and God's salvation...

The procession: the Bible is brought in for the Gospel reading, lifted high, and all faces turn to watch it, which reminds us that Jesus is the Word made flesh...

Communion: the wafer and the wine (not grape juice) are tangible symbols of Jesus' presence with us...

All this to say...

When you read the above, do you automatically discount it? Do you label it "tradition" and turn away? Or do you try to find God in it? How often do we create a box for what we believe worship should look like or feel like? How small is our box? How big is our God?

I wish you could experience what I experienced tonight. 

It reminded me (and it has each time I've been here) that worship should not be based on our preferences or our cultural setting so much as it should be based on Christ and His saving work, and the realness of His presence wherever the Church (the Body of Christ and His bride) are gathered. That makes worship real, and authentic, and powerful. Not us, but Jesus.

Don't limit yourself to thinking that unless you are moved emotionally, unless the song is one of your favorites, unless the message speaks to you, that God was not moving with power in the worship. God is so much bigger than us.

More coming as the week moves on. I look forward to continuing to help us (myself included) understand what it is to worship.

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