Still Pondering Worship

Just Thinking.
I have sat in large echo-y cathedrals, with thundering pipe organs and naves and arches, listening to liturgy and high traditional music. I have sat in an Amana church, with unadorned walls, plain windows, a board floor and wooden benches, lilstening to the sound of a bird chirping and the rustle of Bible pages. I have sat in a one room country church, with mechanical thumping of the piano, listening to the droning sermon and the snoring of the old farmer in the next pew. I have sat in a contemporary church with quickening tempo guitars and flashing outlines on the screen, listening to the clapping. And I have worshipped in each place.

I’m still pondering this thing called “worship”. Much of the time, I think I know what it is. Then I find myself questioning. Is worship outside of me or inside of me? If it concerns what is outside of me, then can all of the above places ignite worship? If it is inside of me, then am I able to worship in any locale, any circumstance? My current thought is that I can worship whereever I choose to worship, although some settings seem more conducive to that inner experience. I remember sitting in that cathedral and thinking that although I am not Catholic, I still found solace in the words of some songs. I remember sitting in the Amana church, thinking that the plainness did not distract me from hearing God’s still small voice. I recall the little country church as a time to worship more slowly. And the contemporary church gave worship a “now-ness” of being immediately in the presence of God. So different………

So let’s assume that worship must be internal. Now what? Is it my internal words? My internal prayer? My internal singing? Or my internal listening? Does what begins as internal find its way into external? Does it begin with attitude? Desire?

When I consider worship in a secular sense, it always has to do with idolizing something as being better or bigger than me. It is something I place on a pedestal and look up to. It’s the acknowledging of the quality of something as being more than I can create. Now if I translate this to God, then do I place God on that pedestal and acknowledge Him as bigger, better, more than me? He is all of that. Is worship then that acknowledgement?

I’m not done with this yet. More musing to come.

To God be the Glory.
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Published in: on August 18, 2010 at 4:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Worship Thoughts

Just thinking…..

I’m a fairly bright and creative person, but sometimes I’m a very slow learner. I was thinking today about the concept of worship. For the longest time, I thought worship was synonymous with going to church. “I’m going to church.” “I’m going to worship.” Same difference.

The last few years, I began to ponder the whole nature of “worship.” I can indeed worship at church, but I can worship other places, also. And there are times that I’ve been at church and didn’t worship at all. I began to separate the aspect of place from worship. I also had to separate the aspect of time from worship. I don’t have to box in my worship from 9:30 to 11 am on Sunday mornings. I don’t have to follow a clock to worship on time. From what I understand of history and cultures, bells and clocks were often used to summon worshippers at various times of the day. But I don’t have to do that.

I’m beginning to understand that my worship experience is to be everywhere and at all times. I don’t compartmentalize a place or time segment and label it “worship”. Yet, I do gather with other like-minded believers at certain times and places for corporate worship. This is right and good. However, my private worship needs to be more of a state of being, maybe a state of mind, a state of consciousness at all times. I don’t think I really should make a separation of my worship time and my “me” time. It all belongs to Him. And worship should be my lifestyle….. my all in all.

So those are my thoughts on the where and when of worship. What about the “what” of worship? What happens? If I continue to confuse going to church at a certain time with worship, then the “what” of worship has to be prayer, song, announcements, song, reading of scripture, sermon, shake hands, song, goodby. And perhaps that’s part of it. Some places tend to ID worship as the singing only, and that’s part of it. They call it praise and worship. So is praise the same thing as worship? Is worship communicating or communing with God? What happens when I worship?

Keep in mind that I am not a theologian. I’m just an ordinary person who thinks and ponders and muses, and doesn’t always get it right. But it seems to me that worship is my sacrifice to One who is bigger and better than me. I have to admit that I am not it, that’s it’s not about me. It’s my expression and acknowledgement that I am not in charge, that I do not have the ultimate wisdom and power (and aren’t you glad….). It’s bowing to the One who does.

Sometimes I just break out in song. I make a joyful noise. I raise my hands in honor. I shout out my praise. Sometimes I just bow my head and cry. I clasp my hands and petition the Lord. Sometimes I just stand silent and listen for the still small voice. I open my ears and eyes and open my palms to be filled.

Can I worship while I pick tomatoes? Can I worship as I drive to work? Can I worship as I play with my grandchildren? Or is worship a time of nothingness dedicated only to Him? I am working on this one! Part of me says to dedicate the worship. Part of me insists that in all things I worship. Do I thank the Creator of the universe for my tomatoes? Do I pray for safety as I drive? Do I rejoice in the gifts of children and teach them on the go about God? Is that worship?

What about style? Do I have to use certain versions, certain eras of music, certain movements? David danced before the Lord. Is it OK if I just stand? I heard of a pastor who was fired once because he didn’t hold his hands right during communion. Uh….. what is the right way? And are there absolute wrong ways and styles to worship?

That leads me to the “why” of worship. To me, this is probably the most important question. Why do I worship? Is it because I have to? Is it because others won’t think I’m holy if I don’t? I think I worship because I have to. It’s not that humans make me; it’s that I am compelled to worship by a holy God. Bow now or bow later is a common phrase. I’ll change that a bit to bow now AND bow later. I worship to give honor to One who deserves all honor.

One thing I am sure of: I need to focus on Him. I need to think of eternity when we gather to worship Him endlessly, when we offer Him the endless praise and honor and glory. What will it sound like? Will it be hymns? Praise choruses? Chant? Or something my human mind cannot even fathom. I need to be able to lose myself in Him.

If you’ve stayed with me this far, you probably are getting the idea that I am unsure of exactly what I am to do about worship. You are right. But I am working on it, and God is still working on me. He is revealing to me a joy and freedom in worship, and I cherish it. In my ordinary life, I just worship Him as He leads me. And what are your thoughts?

To God be the Glory…..
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Published in: on August 15, 2010 at 7:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

I’m So Inept……….

Just Thinking

My laptop and I had a confrontation. Guess who won. But not for long! Can’t keep a good woman down! Here’s the story:

We are Mac people. We’ve owned 4 Macs over the years, and none of them ever died. Old Macs never die; they just get outdated. They chug along, nothing fancy and a little slow, but they always get the job done. Last winter, we decided to buy a PC, as our new jobs at the college would be easier if we could coordinate files between school and home. We were able to buy a new machine through the school, hired someone to help us set it up (isn’t that pathetic?), and then began happily using it. Some things were different, the Xs in the upper right corner, but we could live with it.

So we had the computer in the family for the past few months, and suddenly last week it flashed an error screen at me, filled with ominous words like “Fatal system error” and rows of doom numbers: lots of Os and Xs. The screen turned bright blue and announced that it was calling it quits. The nerve!

My reaction to mischeivous technology is to turn it off and turn it back on. It helps all kinds of problems! So I turned it off and turned it back on. Nothing but a blue screen laughing at me. The next time I tried my little trick, the blue screen thumbed its nose at me.

It was time to contact the IT department. Now if you are IT, no offense. But you all speak a foreign language. Even if I perchance get someone who professes to speak English, it’s still a foreign language. And then there’s the attitude that I know all the jargon, and that I know exactly where a function key is. Excuse me? And not only do they all speak a foreign language, they mumble that foreign language. And they mumble in a whisper. Heaven help me if I get some one from India who learned to speak English yesterday, but has a lisp and uses incomprehensible techhie type of words! Help!

So I emailed the IT department. It was the safer route. They put me in contact with someone somewhere who tied up my cell phone for three and one half hours!!! But bless his heart, he got my computer going again. Spasms of number codes scrolled across the screen. Mr. Techhie was patient with me; he used words like “Click on Enter.” and “Look at the bottom left corner of the screen.” Good. I could understand his language.

Problem? The phone line kept cutting out and then some female voice from the inky cyberspace darkness began to cut in. Mr. Techhie would fade away and then revive. But we made it!

Then I discovered tonight that I have no word processing cabilities left. They were completely wiped out with the Crash. So tomorrow, I get to contact IT again….

I haven’t always been this inept. Growing up, I could turn light switches on and off, use a can opener, and reach a decent speed on a manual typewriter. Once I even fixed a towel dispenser in the women’s restroom at the hospital. And I know how to jumpstart the defrost mode on my fridge with a blow dryer and a table knife.

But current phones, faxes, and ‘puters are leaving me in the dust. Remote controls fill me with terror with their myrid of little colored buttons. And a camera and keyboard on a phone? Give me a break! I’m a digital immigrant, and the natives speak a different language.

Father, I praise You for always knowing my language and speaking so clearly that I can understand you. Forgive me for those times when I don’t want to hear and understand. Thank You for always being there: no busy signals, no screen crashes. How awesome that the ultimate Techhie, the creator of the universe, takes time to talk to me in ways that I understand. Amen.

To God be the Glory
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Published in: on August 12, 2010 at 3:09 am  Comments (1)  

A Big Surprise for Mom and Dad!

Just thinking….

My folks have been gone to CO for two weeks. When the parents are away, the children will play! And play we did. Their home had sustained some water damage in the roof and upstairs and porch. We did some remodeling/repairing of their home, threw a mini “shower” for them with new stuff for kitchen and living room, gave the whole house a deep deep cleaning, and the biggie: bought them a new computer.

The old computer was inefficient, dying and on dial-up. They now have wireless braodband. The computer is a lifeline for them, especially Mom, and when their machine was biting the dust, it was of some concern. We tied a big red ribbon and bow on it! Also restocked their fridge, and planned a nice welcome-home dinner. All of us in the area were there. And of course, they knew nothing of any of this.

I was beginning to wonder during these two weeks if we could pull it off. The job seemed so huge. Because of the water damage, we had so much work in the upstairs to go through boxes and sort out the items that were damaged beyond repair. We worked to repack items in a safer way. We took furniture apart and did countless loads of laundry. The guys rebuilt the porch roof. And of course, all of that required a huge clean up when finished.

My sibs went to their house while we picked the folks up at Amtrak. And of course the train was late…. Anyway, they didn’t see the cars all parked behind the house when we arrived, but they were fretting about how to get into the house since we told them we didn’t have the garage door opener and key.

When we walked into the kitchen, the others were hiding in the hall wilth cameras poised. Then they yelled, “Surprise!” Mom and Dad were in a daze, as they walked about discovering each new thing: the new arrangement of the furniture, the new cushions, the new kitchen things…. But the computer brought tears. And it kept bringing tears over and over. We all sat down to lunch and just rejoiced in each other. It was family at its best. We reminisced about all we had done during the past two weeks, and left with a closer bond.

It was a really big day for us as we put the finishing touches on the cleaning and decorating. And we finally got the new computer service to work (that was beginning to be worrisome.) And then we couldn’t wait until the big reveal. Our parents have been so loving and good and generous to us; it was such a thrill and pleasure to do this for them.

Father, I know how good I feel to be able to love and serve others. So I can comprehend to a small degree how You must feel to bless us. Thank You for my parents and sibs and the love we have. Thank You for showering us with Your love. And when the task seems too huge, thank You for showing the way. Amen

To God be the Glory….
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Published in: on August 8, 2010 at 1:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Big Girls Don’t Cry”

Just Thinking….

Today was the final “Lunch in the Park” for the season. This was a pleasant little discovery when we moved here. About once a week or so in the summer, is a BBQ in the park and some sort of musical program. We had intended to go each of the weeks, but you know how it is: out of town, had an appointment, rain, forgot… Anyway, we saw the notice in the paper that today was the last one for 2010. So we worked it into the schedule to attend. What fun!

Central Park is small, but eloquent. On one side is the Romanesque sandstone courthouse with Chief Wapello’s statue atop it. Across the street is a huge Gothic-style cathedral. On another side is the Greek revival style Carnegie library. Yet another building, City Hall, has the somewhat French look of the Louvre. At one end of the park is a pavilion ringed with Greek style columns. Scattered about the park are benches and tables, threaded together with little winding paths.

We decided to visit the library before eating. The library has recently finished some extensive renovation, and we were curious. Nice! And they had several shelves of books for 25c each. Our book-lover’s souls were thrilled! I found two dictionaries (remember? I collect dictionaries), some cookbooks, a biography, and a wood-working book. The Hubs took these back to the truck and I got in line for lunch.

A caterer had set up a tent and had BBQ burgers, brats and dogs. It was our choice, and then we could pile on the extras: sauerkraut, onions, pickles, condiments, etc. Then we chose a bag of chips from the assortment, and chose two cookies. Finally we chose a soda from an iced barrel. Six bucks, and the burger was huge, hand formed, and grilled to perfection.

Today’s music selection was from Jersey Boys. We found a table under a shade tree, prayed, and enjoyed lunch with Frankie Valle! The Four Seasons never sounded better! At noon, the city churches began ringing their bells. The carillons melded with “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and I thought, “No, they don’t, not on a perfect day like this.” It was a wonderful lunch in the park.

Father, thank You for the small joys you bring into our lives. Thank You for the beautiful weather, the good food, and the pleasant time chatting with the Hubs in the shade. Big girls DO cry sometimes, but today You provided so much joy. Thank You for this day of grace. Amen

To God be the Glory…..
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Published in: on August 6, 2010 at 5:41 pm  Leave a Comment