Holy Asides
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June 26, 2014, 10:00 AM

Swings, Kickball and Worship


This is my second reflection from the Festival of Homiletics conference, and luckily for all of you it has nothing to do with one of the speakers. It is actually a scene that has been with me for the past several weeks. While on break at lunchtime, I rented a bike at a bike share station, which is a whole other post—it was so cool. I rode on the bike paths of Minneapolis, around the Target Stadium, where the Twins play, through neighborhoods, and past a school where the playground was bustling with kids at recess. The joy of riding a 35-lb behemoth, as opposed to a lightweight racing bike, is that you can take in the surroundings much better as your speed is cut in half. As I rode by, I noticed girls on the swings and jumping rope, a mixture of boys and girls playing kickball, four-square, and basketball, one boy was alone attempting to dunk on a low hoop and a triad of girls were away from the blacktop near the fence, picking dandelions. There were shouts of joy, laughter, and bustling conversation. The teachers were supervising and interacting. As I was taking all of this in, and reminiscing about my own childhood recess days, I began to reflect that this is very similar to worship.

 

Worship is filled with praise, joy and laughter. Of course, there are times worship is much quieter, more reserved and reverent (although not in the narthex before service). Moreover, worship is like recess in its variety. It is eclectic and the components make the whole. If the point of recess is to blow off steam and have fun, how is this accomplished? Not everyone experiences this the same way. For some it’s the energy of kickball, running or swinging. For others it’s the socialization of friends and jumping rope or gathering flowers. And others are focused alone with quiet determination on dunking a basketball. Of course, this desire also changes based on days and seasons. Kickball is difficult in 18 inches of snow—I know this firsthand.

 

And worship is exactly the same! If the point of worship is to give glory to God—the word literally means “draw near so as to kiss,” how this is accomplished is different for each person. For some they love to hear the Word of God read and expounded; for others they love to sing—hymns, contemporary music, and a blend; some love the taste of the sacrament, the touch of being anointed with oil, or the fragrant scent of the offering of incense; and some just like to sit in quiet contemplation before the altar of the Lord. And even this varies from day to day. This highlights the importance and necessity of there being a variety of worship styles and services. Recess would be a disaster if there were only swings or if everyone had to play four-square. We need that variety. We need to express ourselves in prayer, singing and sacraments. We need to rejoice loudly in praise or weep in sorrow through the Psalms. Both are worship. As well, we must look around the Church—not just our parish, but at the denominations around us—and give thanks that while we may like the "swings", and others enjoy "jumping rope", we are all at recess with the living God through worship.


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