Vicar’s Message June 2021
Worship as an act has existed for millennia. Worshipping the God of Abraham, our God, has been happening since many thousands of years before Jesus even walked the earth. That can make our worship of Jesus seem pretty young at its mere 2,000 years. Worship is also one the most resilient parts of our Christian life. Look at us – not even a global pandemic could keep Grace from worship, from hearing the Word of God and the rituals around it, whether it was through computer and phone screens or physically-distant, ever-so-cautious in-person worship. Worship is a pillar of Christian life and discipleship. And, if you have ever attended another church, whether for a Sunday service, funeral, or wedding, I am confident you noticed how worship was similar or different.
Whether in use of music, dialogue of words, or implementation of communion and/or baptism, worship can look and feel drastically different in other types of churches. We may be inclined to determine what is right or wrong, meaningful or unfulfilling, or prohibitive or hospitable upon seeing these differences, yet worship still serves the same purpose – declaring our God as worthy of our time, talents, treasures, prayer, and praise. But that still does not answer the question – why do we worship how we worship? This is an especially pertinent question to us as Lutherans, who often have our worship called active, formal, full of music, too traditional, or whatever other label you have heard assigned to it. Lutheran worship is full of rhyme and reason, not just because it is how we Lutherans have always done it.
So, why do we worship how we worship? Rest assured, such an explanation could not be condensed to one issue of Grace Notes. Instead, we will be exploring why we worship how we worship in a sermon series this summer. Over four weeks, June 20 – July 11, we will explore the meaning and evolution of our worship practices over the four parts of our service – gathering, Word, meal, and sending. Lifting up much more than history, we will also explore what meaning our worship carries for us today. For example, have you ever wondered why we have the same music for some parts of the service but changing hymns elsewhere? What about the enormous prayer we have to say before communion – what is up with that? Who wrote all the responses and prayers or said, this one goes here but that one there? And most importantly, what does all of this mean for us as 21st century Lutherans?
Over these four weeks, I hope to answer some questions and wonderings but even more so, I pray these weeks inspire a curiosity and renewed fervor for worship. In so doing, may we be brought closer to God as we deepen our understanding of why we worship how we worship. May it ignite the Holy Spirit in us to bring others to worship and cultivate rich ground in which our faith continues to grow.
I look forward to worshipping with all of you this summer.