When I taught a 5-year-old Sunday school class through high school, there was a point to the lesson I hadn't heard emphasized before, perhaps because it was so obvious to adults? I don't know. It ended something like this:
"So, kids, it is good to worship God, because we love Him and want to thank Him. When can we worship God? Can we worship him when we're SINGING at church?"
"Can we worship God when we're PRAYING before bed?"
"Can we worship him when we're PLAYING with friends?"
"Can you worship God when you HELP your mom or dad?"
"Can you worship God when you SHARE with your friends?"
"WHERE can we worship God?"
The kids thought this was obvious too. Does the church think this is obvious?
How can we worship?
- Can worship happen with hymns and organs?
- Can worship happen praise songs and guitars and drums?
- Can we worship God with responsive readings, agreeing together on the words we say?
- Can we worship God with Communion, remembering Christ's death collectively?
- Can we worship God through listening to a sermon, learning together about the Word of God?
- Can we worship God through baptism, celebrating a new life in the Kingdom?
- Can we worship God through the motions of traditions, like advent candles?
- Can we worship God through dance, using art and body movements to communicate praise to God?
- Can we worship through art, using gifts God gave us to create something beautiful and to His glory?
- Can we worship through writing, communicating truths or experiences that show more of God's character?
- Can we worship while watching a performance, experiencing the gifts God gave someone else?
- Can we worship through learning, opening our eyes to more of God's world and what he has done?
- Can we worship through corporate prayer, agreeing together for our needs, concerns and praises?
- Can we worship through solitary prayer and meditation, focusing on God and his Word, allowing him to speak?
- Can we worship in conversation with one another, teaching and building one another up?
- Can we worship by serving, doing the mundane for the glory of God?
- Can we worship by giving, acknowledging God's goodness to us by returning it generously?
- Can we worship God by speaking out for the needy and marginalized, taking care of those made in His image?
- Can we worship God by caring for the earth, showing respect for Creation?
- Can we worship when we work, using the gifts God gave us to impact others?
- Can we worship God when we play, enjoying the people God put in our lives and the world he made?
I've been to a variety of "worship services" over the last few weeks, and I've appreciated all of them. Between the services and my current reading material, I got thinking about all this, and how we 'do church'. In most Christian circles, worship time means singing, and I am now seeing that an incomplete definition, like coloring with just one crayon and missing out on the rest of the box. Through the different services and traditions, I've gotten to use a few more crayons and see that worship can be done in different ways, and different ways communicate to different people Case in point: I'm no dancer, but I'm delighted that those who dance, dance. I love communicating through writing, whether I'm good at it or not. It's what I connect with. By experiencing some of the other ways to worship that I was less familiar with, I discovered a freedom to see lots of aspects of my life as communicating worship to God, not just a facing-forward, sit-and-stand-and-sing worship service. God is a big God, and has made each of His children different in regards to skills, gifts, and personality, and communicates with them in different ways. It's beautiful, really.
"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering." Romans 12:1 Msg
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" 1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV