The tools of the trade in Worship, for what we do on a Sunday morning and what communities of faith all around the world over centuries have done before us, are ancient and yet modernly powerful tools: silence, scripture, spoken word, music, presence. In an increasingly fragmented world, filled with immediate information any time we want it, schedules and task lists too overwhelming to even begin— our Sunday mornings together have a seemingly foolish and unproductive message—sit. breathe. be. reflect. notice.
To hold the things that matter most, which is the root of the word Worship (from woerthscippe, to consider things of worth) — it takes intention and a dual purpose. The first is to celebrate and name our lives and this world as sacred, where the ordinary is sanctified. The second is to be counter balance to messages which cause shame, despondency, or hubris.
Annie Dillard, writing about Sunday morning worship, writes: It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us to where we can never return.
What we do on Sunday morning is an act, a communal experience, where we are set smack dab in the middle of the largest questions life has to offer. We come face to face, heart to heart, soul to soul with justice, compassion, love, life, death, hope, resilience, meaning, purpose, sorrow, joy. You need a crash helmet, sometimes, to be woken up to a world that is filled with the potential of more justice and compassion, and a life preserver to stay afloat in the sea of clarifying truths that can surprise us at any moment.
Worship need not have a direct object to bow to. It can be an intransitive verb, like play, meaning it can have a direct object like play the flute, or, it can be a state of being: playing, like children do. One can worship something or someone or someplace, or someone can be in the state of worship—leaning in reverence toward something larger than ourselves, rapt in wonder and awe at the beauty and mystery of life and love and hope. Lean in, with reverence, to what matters, with good companions, and it will surely take you to where you may never return.
–Rev. Luke Stevens-Royer