We are in the midst of a cold snap!! It's so cold, in fact, that the area schools were closed today. Predicted low last night was three degrees and school officials didn't want children waiting at bus stops. We were at Tommy's last night when the announcement was made on the evening news and a chorus of "yeas" filled the air. By Wednesday of next week they are promising we'll be back into the fifties. I sort of like cold weather, but the last couple of days have been a bit too cold.
A dear friend and former colleague writes an on line newsletter about worship and the latest came this week. He usually always writes something about the current ligurgical season and includes a quote from his worship mentor, Robert Webber. The latest quote was a translation of a Latin phrase that tells of what worship does. I have pondered that translation ever since I read it early in the week: Show me how you worship and I'll show you what you believe, a clear way to say that worship shapes what we believe.
Those who know me well or who have followed my statements on worship in this blog know that I believe worship to be central in the life of the Church. You also know that my taste leans more to the traditional style with stately hymns, responsive readings, statement of creeds, dignity and order. But, that doesn't mean that I don't see the value of other styles of worship--IF those styles are expressions of adoration of God by the people of God. Next question: How do I, as an observer, know what is being expressed? How do I know when one is standing to sing the Doxology that such singing is an expression of real adoration? How do I know what is truly being expressed when someone is raising his/her arms as a form of praise? Does the practice of repeating lines of liturgy every week make my worship more acceptable than any other kind?
The point is this: It is not our style that is in question. It is the motive behind the style, whether it be traditional, contemporary, highly liturgical. I was struck last weekend when preparing for teaching the introduction to the gospel of Mark by the fact that not only was Mark concerned and compelled to record the message of salvation, but also, and more importantly, he wanted to record it so that his readers, themselves would be excited and compelled to share the message. And, that those who read would believe and become followers of Jesus! Now, tie that to our worship and consider what it says about us.
Is there an attitude of excitement about me? Do I sing I've Got the Joy Down in My Heart with joy on my face or do folks who see me wonder why someone doesn't tell my faces about the Joy? Those Sundays that I'm distracted or simply mouth the words of the Lord's Prayer or the Apostles' Creed, what kind of witness am I expressing? Do I want someone else to get a clue about my belief from my attitude? If so, please Lord, let it be that I am excited about the gospel and want everyone to know so that they might believe and follow Jesus. May my belief be present in my worship!