Friday, November 30, 2007

Worship Continued

Two weeks back, I answered a question from my brother Father Thomas McKenzie about worship. Thomas has answered back, so I'm going to respond.

I can't say that I disagree with much of what Thomas said. The one area of contention I might have is about worship transcending our reality. I don't think it's an either or issue. I believe that worship can both open our eyes to how God is working in our reality (and should do that), but can also remind us that this reality is not the only one.

My other point of contention would be here:
When I worship, my question should not be "did I have a good experience, did I enjoy it?" Rather, I should ask "was it faithful, was it true, was God blessed?" And, if it is then God has been worshiped and I have the opportunity to be satisfied with that.
I would think that these two don't HAVE to be mutually exclusive, although they can be. I don't think it's wrong to ask the question of experience or enjoy-ment, but if that is our only criteria for worship, that's wrong. But I also don't think that it's a question we shouldn't ever ask or be aware of.

On the whole, I greatly agree with Thomas' thoughts. Church of Christ worship services are much less "physical" in the sense that Thomas uses it. But in a lot of ways, I appreciate that aspect of simplicity. And I think a lot of my thoughts on worship come from being in a tradition that puts a lot of importance on the forms of worship, i.e. the five acts that I mentioned before, and making sure they are done properly, and I'm obviously influenced by being a part of that movement that's moving away from such "legalism" and adherence to form over function.

And not to make this a mutual admiration society, I have loved getting to know Thomas over the last few years, both with Church of the Redeemer meeting at Otter Creek's old building and through the Emergent Cohort. He's become a good friend and one that gives me a different perspective of Christianity and faith and orthodoxy that I greatly appreciate.

btw, just as a fun addendum, back when Church of the Redeemer was meeting in Otter Creek's old building, I helped out with some technical things to get them started and did two posts on what I thought about their services.

My thoughts on Church of the Redeemer Worship Service
What made me "uncomfortable" about the Church of the Redeemer Worship Service

Interesting for me anyway to look back at that. Especially with regard to this conversation.


Thomas+ said...

I may be about to split hairs, or I may be pushing a little further. Let the reader decide!

Phil says: "I believe that worship can both open our eyes to how God is working in our reality (and should do that), but can also remind us that this reality is not the only one."

OK, I'm actually saying that there is only one reality. There is not "my reality and God's reality." Just God's reality.

What I have is at best perception, at worst illusion, until God decides to open my eyes. And the only way he can do that is in this physical Now, because I only exist in the physical Now. So whether he does that in a dream, a feeling, a thought, intuition, a kind word from another, a sip of wine, a piece of music--whatever--he only does that in the physical here and now.

So, in worship I can not transcend this world and focus on God. Rather, I can only focus on God's activity by being totally connected to the here and now. Because this is where God is.

And, yes, he is elsewhere. But I am not elsewhere, and I'm not going to ever be elsewhere. I'm only going to be here. Unless the resurrection frees me up somehow, but that is another question I suppose.

This is why I don't pray "God, please come." Rather, I pray "Holy Spirit, you are more present in this place than we are, so awaken us so that we might recognize you here." I believe this is the meaning of the "Holy Spirit falling" or God appearing to someone. All of a sudden, we (by grace) open up to the reality that is already there.

Holy, Holy, Holy
is the Lord God Almighty;
the whole earth is filled with his glory.

Not "will be filled," but "is filled."

And, once again, I have no intention of counting the angels on the head of a pin. I'm just radically committed to a one-reality theology.

Phil said...

OK, I can get behind that. I guess what I was going for was the idea that we don't always recognize the reality of that singular reality and for me, a "good" worship service helps me become more aware of it.

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