I have to admit that my thoughts can drift some when I’m in worship. On a recent Sunday morning I got thinking about when I was going to get firewood split for the winter. It’s not always an easy transition to move from sheer busyness to a time and place set aside for stillness.
Now it’s been my vocational routine to participate in weekly worship for some thirty years. But no matter how familiar the flow of worship is for me, the words in worship can still feel a little strange. It’s not that I don’t know what they mean or don’t realize their importance. Maybe what makes them strange is that they are mostly not about me or my “to do list.” Maybe it’s the kind of strangeness that comes from a particular promise of newness, something we are not always looking for.
Worship is a different kind of communication, a different kind of experience. So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. (Romans 10: 17) This word of Christ is at the heart of our actions whenever we gather for worship. The strangeness of the experience is that it draws us to a most needed place where mercy, forgiveness and peace reach the depths of all human need. It gets offered to us freely regardless if we are mindful of it or not. It draws us into the gift of something greater than ourselves.
As the world reasons things worship seems to be a waste of time. After all we are not producing or accomplishing anything. That can feel rather strange to us. Our need to do more and more works against the act of being still for the sake of faith.
Our Lutheran witness says a lot about the nature of God’s promise. A promise that speaks to newness: of being justified by grace as a gift through Christ. Such an understanding brings clarity to what happens when we gather weekly around word and sacrament – the means of God’s grace. We may worship for any number of reasons but at the center is Jesus who promises to be present, to be among us offering forgiveness and hope – a thankful way forward.
No wonder the regular rhythm of weekly worship shapes the very character of the community of faith as it raises us up again and again to bear witness to God’s love for the world.