"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Monday, August 30, 2004 At the end of our liturgies, the deacon often dismisses us with these words:
"Our time of worship is ended. Our service continues in the world."
I'd always really liked this dismissal because it brought home that "service" isn't something we go to on Sunday or Wednesday night but the action of living out the truth we encounter there in the world.
Only the more I think about it, this dismissal is pretty problematic, too. Problematic because it makes worship into that isolated instance ... and that's equally wrong, if not more.
We worship whenever we give ourselves to God. That's what worship is. It's self-offering. Taking every bit of ourselves that we can bear to surrender and giving it to God joyfully knowing that it and everything else we are and have is a gift from a God who creates us and loves us anew every second of every hour of every day.
Now, as people of faith -- or even as people trying to be people of faith -- we need intentional terms of worship. Where we sit alone or get together in groups and with prayer and song gather up ourselves and say "Here, God: All this--every bit of myself that I can bear to give up is yours ... and really, all the other stuff is, too, I just can't bear to give it up yet but I'm working on it!"
But if that's our total idea of what worship is, then our faith becomes an occasional thing -- perhaps regular, but still occasional.
The truth is, every action, every breath, every movement, every thing we do that involves us giving of ourselves or caring for and loving anything that God gives us, every little thing like that -- whether earth-shaking or mind-numbingly insignificant -- can and should be worship. And it is, if as we do it we remember that we are ever in God's presence and we do it out of love for the God who creates us out of love anew each day.
It's kind of a funny thought to get used to. Studying for that chem test is an act of worship. Doing the dishes is an act of worship. Tenderly touching a friend or lover is an act of worship.
Even reading this blog ... an act of worship.
When you get down to it, it's the difference between going to church and being the church. I think "going to church" sounds about as appealing as "going to the dentist." But being the church ... worshipping 24/7 ... striving together to have a life of self-giving love be not an occasional gesture but a transforming way of life ... well, sign me up for that!
Our ECM community has lots of intentional times for worship -- Wednesday nights, Sunday nights, daily morning prayer, silent retreats, the list goes on. And I sure hope you'll join us often for those times of worship. But even more I hope that when we come together in those times, they are a reminder to us and a strengthening for us to live worshipful lives the rest of the time.
A reminder that our time of worship is never ended, it only continues in the world.
| Mike at 8/30/2004 10:54:00 PM
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."