Tuesday, March 04, 2014


For me a lightbulb went on years ago when I realized that worship is becoming more in tune with God by being a vehicle for the carrying out of his will.

In other words, worship is work.

Before, I though worship was supposed to be transcendent enlightenment and communion with the divine, the kind epitomized by singing in the glorious choir in an echoing cathedral and peaceful rest listening to a holy sermon.

Or the energy of community harmony in study of the word with like-minded  disciples  

I'd work hard all week and hope and expect that time at church would be the source of the transcendent respite I needed that week.  But though those kinds of transcendent experiences are sweet, and seeking and finding such transcendent moments is worthy and refreshing for the soul, they are not the full meaning of the word "worship", the thing church meetings were for.

Having figured that out I now attend church knowing that it's going to be work; good work, but work nonetheless.  It is praying for those speaking at the pulpit, extending charity to the struggling teacher, helping children manage sacrament meeting, listening kindly to the ones I disagree with, thoughtful social interaction in the halls (so hard...), and being a conscious, warm welcomer.  It's all WORK with, sometimes, the pleasant gift of a flash of divine inspiration because of a comment made, or a person listened to or some quietude for the 5 minutes the sacrament is passed to the congregation, (but only if the children don't need help right at that moment as well).

And yeah, it's not relaxing.  So of course I come home tired.  Work makes me tired.

Once I figured that out and consciously made time for the other more restful spiritual things I sought (good theological discussions, contemplation, good music, peaceful fellowship or transcendent interaction with the divine) at times other than the three hour block, my relationship to church attendance changed.

So now I don't go to find peaceful respite.  I go expecting to have to work, and sometimes to have to work hard.  And I consciously set aside time to do the (also essential) transcendent communion moments at other times during the week.

Just for fun, there are some interesting etymologies involved in the word "worship", some a bit of a stretch but pleasant to play with if you are inclined.

"Wor"  a word in Geordie (North East England) dialect, an affectionate form of "our".
It's a sign of affection, of belonging in an emotional sense. It can be in a family, or it can be in the wider community. Either way it's a warm, positive, welcoming expression.

"Wor", from the Old Saxon "woero", meaning "worthy".

"~ship" from  the Old English "siepe" meaning "condition of being" and Proto-Germanic "skap" meaning  "to create, ordain or appoint"

1 comment:

Connie said...

Some excellent thoughts. Thank you.