Worship, today, is modified from what we’ve been familiar with, but it is still worship.
We’ve moved to different expressions of worship – from parking lots and online services to some in-person activities – as a response to the current health crisis affecting our community and world. Worship is not what we are used to, but that doesn’t make it less holy or impactful to our walk with Christ.
At its core, worship has never been about us or what we like. It’s not about the music, the style, or the oratory skills of the pastor. Worship has always been about a community coming together to give praise and adoration to God for all that the Lord has done. It centers us as a community, but also calls us outward to continue the worship through our acts of love and grace in the world.
In leading in this modified time, we have all made difficult choices on how to give honor and worship to God in a safe and healthy manner. There are aspects of worship that are central to who we are that we have refrained from in this time. There are other aspects that we have continued doing.
No matter what the function of worship may be, we have to remember that worship is never about us. It is always about God. When our administration and, even, evaluation of worship is based upon our preferences and desires, then we are missing the true nature of worship. In this way, worship becomes a form of entertainment that is about pleasing the masses and not celebrating the name of God.
How do we keep the focus on God in worship, regardless of whether we are in the parking lot, online, or in-person?
For one, we need to prepare ourselves to worship God. If our heart is not ready to worship, we will enter into that space distracted and disoriented. Take a moment before worship to ask God to prepare your heart and center your soul, so that you may participate in the worship and give glory to God.
We also need to remember to participate in worship through the various acts of celebration. Worship is not voluntary or something done to where we watch a few people engage in the act. Worship demands our involvement and participation. Even if you are the worst singer and cannot carry a tune in a bucket (that would be me), sing with gusto to the Lord. Take notes during the sermon, so you will remember what was said throughout the week. Reflect upon the words of the liturgy as an act of prayer. These acts are moments of engagement that lead us towards a deeper faith in God.
Perhaps, as well, we need to limit the distractions, so that we can focus entirely upon where God is leading us. Too often we come to worship thinking about a conversation we need to have or an argument we had on the way to the gathering. Let’s be honest, too, and admit we spend time in the sermon thinking about where we are going for lunch. When these moments, and others, take up space in our mind, it limits our capability to reflect upon the holy nature of God.
No matter how worship looks, having deeper conversations about our engagement in this holy act is important. It will lead us to see God more at work in our lives, and, as well, deepen our connection with God and one another.