Worship is Work

I was on a clergy retreat last week. (Thank you, Austin Theological Presbyterian Seminary for this gift). It's a group of pastors, so of course we spend a good deal of time trying to figure out how to do our jobs. A couple of us talked a long, long time about worship. How to lead with integrity--how to walk alongside people without judgment--how to listen and respond to the Spirit moving us--wondering if there is still a place and need for this strange weekly gathering around wine, water and word. It's probably the most mystifying part of leading Humble Walk. I learned long ago-and actually have to keep relearning-that there is very little predicting who will arrive together on Sundays. Will it be half visitors? Half youngsters? Will all the stars align and nearly everyone will arrive together? Who am I preaching to (and sometimes with) this week?

Park events, bar events, neighborhood gatherings, online discussion--all fairly predictable patterns. But worship? Well, that's anyone's guess.

Worship asks something of us. It requires setting down 100 other things demanding our attention. Worship requires us to show up in person. When I think about creating space for this weekly pattern in my own calendar, the image that comes to mind is boxing out. (Yes. I actually just made a sports reference.) In basketball, boxing out is using your whole body-to get as big as possible-in order to create space to (hopefully) receive the ball.

So on Sunday, you have boxed out a little slice of time and come straggling in the door. Amazing. But then, we ask more from you because worship doesn't work without you. The liturgy-which actually means, "the work of the people", needs you. To sing, to respond, to pray, to carry the service. And those people sitting around you are going to want to interact with you before and afterwards. They will want to say hello--they will ask about your life. They might ask why you are in wheelchair and then with great earnestness, pray for you and your well being during the prayers of the people. I've seen it happen.

Humble Walk worship often feels like a reunion. Beloved people wandering in from all the corners of the world. Some who have followed us online and now are here in the flesh. Some who have been far off and now back. Many who we see every week. All of us, together, being re-oriented. All of us, together, remember who we are and whose we are--Beloved. God's beloved.