Wednesday, June 27, 2007

emerging, incarnational, trinitarian, sacramental, ancient-future worship

I’ve been thinking about worship a lot lately. A week ago Thursday I worshiped alongside of this community, Church of the Beloved in Edmonds, WA a church plant from COTA. Emerging worship can be an interesting beast to navigate for those just learning it's own particular ethos. With the sophisticated images configured, projected and displayed, at least sophisticated for those not familiar with "how to do it", and the amazingly gifted song leaders with voices that could sell, and well, to a relaxed atmosphere of couches and coffee. This veneer can appear to be "the holy grail" we've all been searching for, but in reality and beneath it all, is a profoundly thoughtful, incarnational, sacramental and trinitarian expression of integrated cultures, sacred and secular if you will, that is all reflected through this particular worshiping community. One could easily go away thinking and believing that anything less than cool graphics, hip art, with fantastic lead vocals, in a relaxed environment is the essence of emerging worship. I can understand that, but there's really so much more going on.

So again, I've been thinking a lot about worship lately. This primary function of being church is deeply personal for each of us and with those personal convictions come strong opinions around what is most important and necessary for a TRUE worship experience. In a book entitled “Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America” there was an interesting reflection that I thought I’d pass along as we wonder together and live into the centrality and commitment we have as church to our worship life.

A woman "who, after attending worship and disliking the sermon, asked her visiting friend, “Now tell me, what did you get out of that worship service?” The woman was taken aback when the friend replied, “That’s not a question I ask myself. I ask myself, ‘Did this community of God’s people worship God today?” It never occurs to many people to define worship in terms other than meeting individual needs, or to put God rather than personal satisfaction at the center of worship. This situation is the result not just of people’s individual perversity, but of the pervasiveness of the power of individualism that tries to determine not only the answers but also the way one shapes the question.” (MC, p. 112)

What missional activity are we up to during worship? What missional work is God doing as we, being church, gather from Sunday to Sunday? These are the heart of the questions that worship in emerging communities are exploring and experimenting around. How we answer, live and embody this and questions like it, speak volumes about where we are at in our, collective and individual, journey with God and what God is trying to communicate through us. How we answer this question has profound and far reaching implications for our very practice of worship.

Now go in peace to love and serve the Lord...with your heart as well as with your head, and your feet as well as with your mind. Thanks be to God!


tamie said...

as usual, you make me think. what is worship? who is god? what is church? what are we doing when we come together to share in god, experience god, be god to each other? these are not easy questions to ask or ponder. keep sharing your journey with us!

Anonymous said...

I like the concept "chop wood, carry water" meaning that we can worship, go to church, and see God in our everyday experiences. We are not necessarily on some spiritual quest to find God - because He is always with us. We just have to open our eyes and our ears. Be quiet - listen and hear His voice. I trust He is at work in each of us every day.

isipwater said...
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isipwater said...
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isipwater said...

Dave once said to me that some people are misunderstanding the emerging church, thinking it is just about observable things like making church more exciting, hip, and sexier.

Thanks Dave for giving us more than eye candy. You are helping me see how church can be lived differently.

dave said...

ah my friends, those who share with me through this journey. it is good to be in conversation with you because you have helped me to even ask and wonder in these ways.

Russ said...

You've got some good points there, Dave. I was reading over the first paragraph and wondering why it is I dislike church when it's polished and produced. Honestly, it's probably for the same reasons I like the first couple records almost any band produces better than their later ones.

So now you've got me wondering if the aesthetics at church are moot. Part of me feels like they are, as long as it's coming from an honest place inside the worship community, but another part of me knows that I have a much easier time connecting with God when I'm out in the mountains than I did when I was visiting my friend's church. My friend was honest enough about his worship, too, so I can't just dismiss it.

This feels like a lesson I should have learned at Taize but missed somewhere along the way.