Friday, October 26, 2007

what is worship?

I got this great email from my friend Ryan and wanted to pass it along. These are helpful thoughts that further an understanding of church, and the worship life of church, that is more driven by the way individuals and communities embody the message that they so desperately seek to articulate and embrace. These words are at the heart of an emergent expression of church and the way it seeks to order its life through worship, and faith active in love. Enjoy!

"The conversation continues. I was just thumbing through "Love and
Living" by Thomas Merton and came across the following on page 181...

"The West has lived under the sign of will, the love of power, action,
and domination. Hence, Western Christianity has often been associated with a spiritual will-to-power and an instinct for organization and authority. This has taken good forms, in devotion to works of education, healing the sick, building schools, order and organization in religion itself. But even the good side of activism has tended toward an overemphasis on will, on action, on conquest, on 'getting things done,' and this in turn has resulted in a sort of religious restlessness, pragmatism, and the worship of visible results. There is another essential aspect of Christianity: the interior, the silent, the contemplative, in which hidden wisdom is more important than practical organizational science, and in which love replaces the will to get visible results."

The idea of "worshiping visible results" grabbed my attention. We discussed this before in regards to doing church a new way. Having visible results as top priority makes church into self-worship, right? Then self-worship deafens us to hearing God.

The new way puts the focus back on God. The less time spent looking for visible results, means more time available for listening."

Thanks again Ryan for these insightful thoughts.


Chris said...

Lathrop and Wengert, in their book Christian Assembly, evoke Luther and describe church as the event where the Word takes place, where the Word acts. Gosh, that kind of event can take on lots of different forms . . .

I wrote a little bit about their excellent book here: Marks of the Church.

Peace to you.

dave said...

thanks for your thoughts. i read your little write up and feel that you begin to touch on some of the thoughts for the essence of church. i'm a little suspicious of our lutheran reductionism...that is viewing the essence of church primarily through our lens and then calling it church. where's the perichoretic expression of God in all this? what about those who gather for in anticipation of the word? where the word itself is received? many questions really.

i've just completed my paper for class developing an emerging missional ecclesiology. i'm trying to figure out how i can put the text online, either through gmail docs, or somewhere else. i'd love to hear your thoughts.

peace, dave

Anonymous said...

is this ryan marsh in the quote?

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from karen ward