Thursday, February 14, 2013

Spectating? Worshipful

You notice: I'm a spectator right now. Maybe I'm at a game, or the symphony, or watching TV, or looking out the window at a couple walking by. We know how to be in an audience: you watch, soak it in, maybe grade whether you approve or not. Did the movie make me laugh? Did my team win?
You might begin to feel like a spectator of your own life - like it's happening out there, the frames whizzing by, scenes you see and maybe wish you were a part of. Political life in America is largely about watching the TV and fuming about the knuckleheads - in the privacy of your own den, with no constructive action to make a difference yourself.

You come to church, and once more you slide into your accustomed role: I'm watching the show. Does the music suit me? Do I agree with the preacher? Did it hold my attention?

SΓΈren Kierkegaard helped us understand worship: while a service looks like performers (minister, choir) on stage before an audience (the congregation), the truth is we are the performers (minister, choir, and congregation), and God is the audience of One. We are not consumers to be entertained; if we are in a spectating mindset, we have not worshipped at all.

Worship isn't about what I like or don't like. Worship isn't like pulling up at the gas pump and getting a refill. Worship is about God; in worship we glorify God. Worship is maybe only time during the week that it's not all about you, the one time you shelve being a consumer.

I once knew a woman who kept coming to church after she'd grown totally deaf. In a note I asked her why, if she couldn't hear the music, my sermon, or the other people? She wrote back and said It's not about you, or them, or even me. It's about God. I might even be able to worship better because I can't hear.

Next time you notice yourself spectating - in church, or out there at a movie or in a crowded restaurant, stop and think of Kierkegaard. You are the performer, and God is your audience. You begin to participate, and to really live - and it's not for the other people who might look your way. It's all for God, on Sunday morning but all through the week.

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