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Worship is a Verb

April 6, 2014
Our Sanctuary altarscape for Lent.

Our Sanctuary altarscape for Lent.

A lot of times I hear people ask, “When do you get to worship?” The implication is that as a pastor, on Sunday mornings I am leading worship, and cannot simply enjoy worship. I may get distracted by whose turn it is to speak, how my sermon is being received, or who will notice that typo/mispronunciation/wrong note/awkward silence.

However, during this season of Lent I have had many opportunities to lead worship and to worship without leading.

One of the things I love about the United Methodist Church is our connectivity. It is great to know pastors in other churches, support one another in ministry, and occasionally join our congregations together for community worship.

Each Sunday evening during the season of Lent, one of six churches in the Smynings area (Smyrna/Vinings) is hosting a community worship service. It has been great to visit other churches, hear my colleagues in ministry, and worship together.

In fact, in the last month I’ve had many incredible worship opportunities of all varieties. Just in our own church I’ve preached sermons, welcomed new membership, served communion, anointed with oil, officiated a funeral.

This month I’ve been a guest preacher in another church; I’ve hosted a guest preacher in our church. I’ve listened to other preachers, witnessed a dear friend’s baby receive baptism, heard testimonies about how mission changed the life of a congregation, and attended a funeral for a dear friend’s father.

I’ve reflected in taize worship where instead of a sermon, there’s 15 minutes of silence. That’s right, 15 minutes of silence.

I’ve found myself in eight different churches this month, as well as leading a funeral in someone’s home. Worship doesn’t happen in one place or at one time, it happens everywhere and every moment we allow it.

Welcoming new people into membership is a great part of worship!

Welcoming new people into membership is a great part of worship!

I always appreciate the opportunity to worship when I don’t have to plan the service or preach the sermon. It gives me a chance to relax and focus my attention fully on God. However, every worship service I am part of is an opportunity to worship. Whether I am leading or not, preaching or listening, I am putting myself into the service as an active participant, because worship is a verb. It is an action. Worship is not something we go to. Worship is something we do.

Theologian Kierkegaard described worship as a performance played out for an audience of one: God. The rest of us, pastor and congregation included, are the active participants who are offering our best to God.

Whether I am leading worship from the pulpit or sitting in the pews or praying with a family in their living room, I am actively participating in offering God all that I have and all that I am.

So when do I get to worship? Every chance I get. My prayer is that you do too.

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