“People have the idea that the preacher is an actor on a stage and that they are the critics, blaming or praising him. What they don’t know is that they are on the stage; he [the preacher] is merely the prompter standing in the wings; reminding them of their lost lines.” Soren Kierkegaard
When I first encountered the worship service at TPC, I didn’t know what to think. Having grown up in the Baptist church, I had been raised to think of a high church service as only a ritual that was devoid of any room for God to show up. While I had experienced a similar style of worship on my visit to Westminster Cathedral in London and the couple of times I had worshiped in an Episcopal church here in the states, I approached worship of this type with a healthy skepticism. I had, however, committed to living with our style of worship for a year before suggesting any changes. As I immersed myself in the flow of the service and allowed each movement to speak to me, I found myself meeting God in ways I had never expected. Through this, I learned a very valuable lesson about worship services in general. That lesson is that the most important thing I bring to worship is my attitude.
If I come each week expecting to be entertained, or expecting that the music be to my liking, or expecting that the preacher (when it is not me) only confirm what I already believe about God, or that the performances of the liturgist, preacher, choir and cantors be flawless, or that (you can fill in the blank), then I have missed the point of coming to worship. As Soren Kierkegaard points out, worship is not for us, but for God. As we all join in, allowing each movement of the service to move us and teach us, as we offer our voices through the spoken prayers and hymns, as we open our hearts and minds to the Word of God, both spoken and proclaimed, as we offer ourselves back to God through the offering of our tithes and our personal prayers, we then become a central part of each worship service. This is when we encounter God. As we recognize our proper place in all of this, it allows us to meet God in new and different ways.
Let me invite you to join me on the stage of worship and make room in our lives for God to reveal Himself anew to us. I can just see God standing and applauding each Sunday.
Pastor Steve Ranney