Monday, August 29, 2011

Mid-Life Crisis, part 1

When I turned 40 years old (it was several years ago) I had what could be considered a mid-life crisis. I didn’t have an affair, use drugs, start a rock band or buy a sports car. I didn’t get overly ambitious or dangerously slothful. I am pretty unusual, so I prayed. I knew that my life-expectancy ought to be around 80 years. That meant that at 40, I was half way finished with this world. I prayed about what I should be doing with the rest of my life.

I believe that the Lord gave me three answers. There are three things that I am supposed to do with the rest of my life. Everything I do, propose, think about or support should lead toward the accomplishment of one or more of these three things. None of my three things are especially unique or special; they are just the things that God is calling me to do. So, part one of my life’s calling is:

I am to facilitate a renewal in worship in my congregation, and in the United Methodist Church.

Let me explain this briefly. Often we think of worship as a set of practices that we participate in at a prescribed time (Sunday morning) and place (a church building). Although I agree with that definition, it does not go nearly far enough. Worship cannot be contained in our traditional ways of thinking.

  • We need to view worship as a relationship, rather than an event. Worship is not what happens for an hour on Sunday morning, it is a lifetime of speaking to and listening to God. It is an ongoing conversation throughout the week, and throughout our lifetimes.
  • We need to think of worship not in terms of style, but substance. There are many people who get worked up about the type of music, style of prayer, etc in the worship service. But God is not limited to our stylistic preferences. He can speak to us in hymns, gospel songs, choral anthems or even hip-hop.
  • We need to remember that worship is something that happens (or does not happen) based on our attitudes. When we worship we must be prepared to meet God, not thinking about how we are fulfilling some sort of obligation. If our priority is our Sunday afternoon tee time, then worship on Sunday morning will be more difficult.
  • We need to think of worship as an experience rather than an obligation. We don’t “have to” worship, we “get to” meet with God.

It will take some adjustment, but renewal in worship is possible, and preferable.

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