I would like to post a series of reflections on the intersection of theology with other aspects of our faith lives: worship, mission, service, discipleship, etc. You are invited to join in with a post or two of your own by sending an email to Frank Emanuel. As always, comments are most welcome.
I have been thinking about worship a fair bit lately for two reasons. First I've been asked to write an article on emerging church worship for an academic journal. But, more importantly, we are about to launch a new Worship and Listening group at our church. We've done these groups in the past, the format is simple but often the experience is profound: we gather to sing our worship to God then we wait and see what God might have to say. Even when we do not get anything specific - this act of waiting is often quite significant.
When we wait, especially in silence, we are going against a culture that defines everything by utility, by doing and worse by accomplishing something. To wait on God like this, is to risk not hearing. Instead of focusing on doing it directs us to simply 'being'. God wants us to be still and know that God is God. The theology of this is one of recognizing that God is not something we do. Nor is God is something we accomplish. God is something other than that, and we can completely miss God in all our busyness.
To say this about utility is not meant to devalue doing, or even accomplishing things. The activist aspect of our culture is what is responsible for so many of the awesome advances we all enjoy. Even from a faith perspective, faith without works is indeed dead. However, the mistake of our culture is that the doing is what gets us closer to God, and worse the doing is sometimes mistaken for God. Is it any wonder that our culture is so full of tired, burned out people when we have placed doing above hearing?
How often have you been caught up in doing, doing, doing? How often do you miss God when you do not pause and listen for what God is actually saying. I know that I tend to miss God's affirmations of me when I get busy. No wonder I often get overwhelmed when I let the busyness of life take over. It is when I stop and turn my attention to that still small voice that I hear God say how much I am valued and loved regardless of anything I can do. I am convinced that in that recognition is the rest in which we find salvation - not the busyness of our works, even our most important works.
This reflection is just one aspect of the intersection of theology (what we think and say about God) and worship. As we head into this new year, I hope that you will think deeply on the theology of all that you do as a people of faith. But most of all, I hope this encourages you to stop, wait, and listen to what God is saying.
Frank Emanuel, Freedom Vineyard, Ottawa