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More thoughts on leading and worship

A cartoon of Homer Simpson's brain with little room for anything but sleep and donuts.

Doug Chaplin has taken up my challenge in discussing further this idea of whether one can lead and worship at the same time. He writes:

this “conundrum” seems to me to suggest an understanding of worship as a human experience of God. I wonder, say, how such an understanding might relate to the idea of priesthood as majoring on the kind of rush-hour chaos of animal slaughter which characterised the Passover in the New Testament period. I wonder also whether the way either David sets the question up depends on an assumption that worship is defined by what the worshipper experiences, rather than what the worshipper offers.

Doug has a really good point. On one level, it really doesn’t matter whether worship gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, or I trip over a familiar phrase in a new way and sense that word from God or become aware of his presence. Worship is an offering and something I do because God is God, and I am not.

But it still doesn’t leave me content to leave things there. The analogy of the New Testament rush-hour temple is a good one, in this sense, because (for me) that image is some of what Christ breaks apart. When we worship, we aren’t offering gifts to propitiate an angry, stone false deity whose eyes are ever fixed straight ahead and who never speaks or acts. In Jesus, we have seen the Father (to paraphrase his own description), there is (or ought to be) relationship there.

Of course, I’m also conscious that I’m defining worship very narrowly here as well. There are times and moments in doing the washing up, or putting my kids to bed, or speaking with a family who have just lost a loved one, or spending time with my parents where I remember and know that these things too are worship… or at least they can be. As a Priest, no as a human being I have more than enough opportunities day-by-day to offer my worship to God and know too that he is with me. Maybe that’s where the rubber hits the road – the priest is to be a worshipper always, but it’s not necessarily the case that we ought to worry if in a service of worship we find ourselves thinking more about whether I forgot to read the Banns for a couple or how well this new idea will work, than about entering into the presence of God.

I’m intrigued by all this… may write more if more thoughts come.

Comments

Ali
Reply

I read the first post and was about to write down some of what I’ve seen you put in this post. Many years ago when I started leading the (musical side of) worship, I came across Romans 12v1-2 and saw it in a new light. What I defined as worship was simply a fraction of what the bible seems to be deicting worship as. I find it hard to pull away from the “wroship as in what we do on a Sunday” mentality, but those verses are what I come back to time and again. For me, if I can see my worship as being my day to day service and living, then it goes someway to removing the abstraction I put on “worship” when it comes to Sunday.

That’s not to say that I feel like I have belittled what worship is – I hope I have intimately tied it in to what I am doing in leading, just like the rest of the week. There are times when I’m leading and I feel a great sense of God and who he is, and yet I am completely focused on leading – I really don’t believe that the two are mutually exclusive.

I reckon it’s really important to make room for worship outside of leading, and I guess that must be hard when you’re running a church – everything feels like (or is) an act of leading.

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