This morning, January 1st, I sat outside the balmy Sunshine Coast heat doing my first quiet time of the year, and this was one of my daily devotionals, so I thought sharing this with you might be of use. It’s from a devotional book I read every day by Marva J Dawn.
2015 needs to be the year that our worship leading reaches new heights, not a cut down version of last year. What do you think of this passage…
God of grace and God of glory, on your people pour your power;
Crown your ancient Church’s story; bring its bud to glorious flow’r.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
For the facing of this hour,
For the facing of this hour.
Harry Emerson Fosdick, 1878-1969
We often don’t ask enough questions or the right kind of questions about the foundations of what we are doing. Just as scientists sometimes begin to perform medical procedures before anyone has raised the necessary moral objections, so it seems that many congregations today are switching worship practices without investigating what worship means and how our worship relates to contemporary culture.
The Scriptures, the history of the Church, and my own faith, experience, and training convince me that the vitality and faithfulness of our personal and corporate Christian lives and the effectiveness of our outreach to the world around us depend on the character that is formed in us.
What concerns me is whether our local parishes and denominations have thought thoroughly enough about worship and culture to function effectively in contemporary society. How can we best reach out to this society without “dumbing down” that essential character formation?
My major concern for the Church has to do with worship, because its character-forming potential is so subtle and barely
noticed, and yet worship creates a great impact on the hearts and minds and lives of a congregation’s members. Indeed, how we worship both reveals and forms our identity as persons and communities. . . .
In light of the “dumbing down” that happens in worship in some places, we might paraphrase Neil Postman: “When the congregation becomes an audience and its worship a vaudeville act, then the Church finds itself at risk; the death of faith and Christian character is a clear possibility.” . . .
It is not too late to ask better questions as we seek to make worship meaningful for persons in our present culture. . . . Can the Church be a place of meaningful talking, attentive listening, and profound thinking? In short, can we develop a theology of worship for the Church to flourish and grow in a turn-of-the-century culture?
Before we adopt any worship practice, O Lord, guide our thinking . . .Amen.
Let’s make this year the best worship ever!