Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Reimagining Christianity 1.4

Affirmation 4: Loving God means expressing our love in worship that is as sincere, vibrant, and artful as it is scriptural.
What might that entail for a community that calls itself progressive, inclusive, diverse? What, to begin with, constitues "sincere worship"? If you Google the phrase, you get more than 16,000 hits. Now that probably says as much about the search engine as it does about the interest in worship, but clearly a lot of folks are writing about this from perspectives that range from evangelical Christian to Muslim to Native American spirituality to Budhism.
My favorite Biblical definition of worship comes from Paul's letter to the Romans, where he says, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Sincere worship, it seems, has to do with discernment -- with listening for and coming to understand how God calls us to live transformed lives.
There are just as many hits on "vibrant worship," and just as much confusion over what it means. Perhaps any worship in which people come to hear and understand something true, powerful and transformative is, by definition, vibrant.
There are far fewer hits on "artful worship." Why do you suppose that is? What would such worship look like? feel like? sound like? I hope it would be full of beauty, which is why I snagged the painting above for all to look at. It's called Creation.

1 comment:

jamie said...

well said and i appreciate the insight into discernment as worship. i also think the practices of community and justice are acts of worship. if historical jesus scholars know anything, then it seems like jesus' deal was to gather a community than worships God and practices justice within and without. somehow i think the worship and the justice are deeply interwoven.

as for the art...good luck with that one. as a musician i've struggled with the purpose of art in worship quite a bit. i suppose it depends in part if one believes in beauty and, if so, what that conception of beauty is. i sometimes think about the element of music that involves manipulating time as "worship" in that it's actively involved in experimenting with some of the basics of our reality and experience. if "time" in any way reflects God's order, then i wonder if messing with that order--exploring its boundaries to the best of our abilities--pleases God in some way. and not to get all sci-fi/new agey, but i do think it's interesting that Genesis describes creation as an act of the voice, while some basic galaxy and molecular structures are in the shape of sound vibrations. (admittedly, my science may be pretty bad here.)