Worship is more than the repetitive rituals we do at our churches but another way of carrying out the Great Commission set forth by Jesus Christ. This was not the only class I took this summer. I had the pleasure of taking Pneumatology and Pre-Modern History. These classes framed a great deal of my understanding and points throughout the eight weeks. In my Pre-Modern History class, I focused my paper on the movement of Quietism which ran alongside the Reformation.
Then Pneumatology assisted me in understanding the aspects of the Holy Spirit and how it functioned in our communal worship practices. This summer has been a very difficult summer. I hope through this reflection paper I can show how worship is more than the communal rituals we do but something we must live and breathe for it to have a true impact on the world. I lack sometimes the words to adequately describe the situation so throughout the paper you will find images during the time and previous to get a sense of either joy or emptiness that is felt.
Background of the Summer
To understand the appreciation the class had on me this summer, I will make to what this class has done for me it is important to share what was going on in my world outside of the academic arena. Right after Holy Week, the Bishop relieved our Priest from his duties at our church. My husband and I had spent four years at the church. I was an active member of the Vestry, in Alter/Flower Guilds, and a postulant to become a deaconess. I was going to be the first deaconess set aside for CANA West.We were a traditional church, many of the women wore head coverings. I loved my head coverings I love the traditions it was the first place I can honestly love God. It was this church where I found my love of taking care of people as a servant. The church had supported us through the loss of our children to their mother, they saw my husband I get married. This was our family. Because of everything that had happened my husband decided to leave the church because of the politics that had resulted in less than honorable people being allowed back into the fellowship of the church.
We wondered around for a couple of months looking for a new congregation. My husband is a former Episcopalian and me being a mutt of Protestant faiths decided he would go back to the Episcopal Church. Finding a church was extremely important because I had to get working on an internship for the Fall to graduate in December. Once we found one it took us less than a month to leave it due to it being a social justice warrior congregation. They were considered a High Mass church but their respect for the worship style was below anything I had ever seen. For example, couples breastfeeding their child during a homily in front of everyone. No one welcomed us except the priest’s wife. So, we went to find another church.
I had a lady I knew that used to be a member of a group I used to belong to who went to an Episcopal Church. I decided to go check out their Wednesday Evening Prayer/Holy Communion/Healing service. Everyone was great but was really a low mass type of service. I decided at least the people were nice and so I asked my husband if we could try going on a Sunday. He liked the Sunday service. It was radically different from our services at our Anglican Church and even the first Episcopal church we attended. It was a low mass service people sat in a circle around the Holy Table. There was no stained glass and they sang modern songs like ones you can find on KLOVE.
My husband decided to fill out a membership form that day and transferred our membership to there. After a couple of weeks, I asked the priest if I could do an internship at the church and he said yes. Excited to have a way to graduate I took hold of the opportunity. However, as excited as that was, I lost something in the transition from the Anglican to the Episcopal Church. I lost my home. I found Peterson’s and Saliers books impactful. They identified what was missing and why I miss my old church so much and why I have had problems incorporating myself in the Episcopal Church we currently attend. Peterson discusses individuals who have spent a lifetime in the church and by adding something new and unfamiliar can be like stealing the opportunity to worship away from congregants. Saliers discusses the senses and how a worship service is supposed to resonate with someone on some or all the senses described. I used to have the sense of awe at my church. Saliers mentions that we should have a sense of awe in the presence of God. The essence, the organ, the call and response and the beauty of the vestments and traditions it was the place I wanted to be all the time. The two days I was not at church were too much for my soul to take. I had no problems sitting in the church for hours just to feel the awe and closeness with the Lord.
It had been the one place where my Amazing Grace and I Need Thee Every Hour, sounded beautiful. This is awe. The feeling one feels when God enters a place and individuals feel the need to sing. When words fail they just give utterance. I pray for the opportunity to have the boldness to either sing or share with others about the wonderful grace and love our Lord gives us.
Worship in A New Place Through the Lens of WSHP 527.
Upon being in your class and reading Saliers and Peterson, I began to try to appreciate the differences in worship styles. I tried to open myself to be ok with the low mass concept. However, I just could not replace the sense of awe and delight that the Anglican church provided me. So now I sit in conflict trying to understand what has happened and how can I get it back. We are called to be living blocks that become a royal priesthood where we are to give spiritual sacrifices to God through Christ.
While studying in Pre-Modern History this summer I began looking at the Quietism movement. Some interesting points about the movement stuck out with me which I think is important to observe. We all lose our senses at some point and while we search in the dark and suffer a loss we are commanded to continue to worship the Lord as we prepare for the way of ministry. The joy of the Lord is personal and different for everyone. As worship leaders, we must not just “wing it” when we plan our worship services but make a concerted and prayerful effort to invite the Holy Spirit in.
The bigger question becomes how are we to worship the Lord in his perceived absence? In all honesty, I can’t answer that question. In the past two years, I have more reasons to wonder and doubt if God is even there. When I started this degree program here at Walden I had no doubt. I had no fear. Today at this moment I cannot say that. I continue to pray but sometimes I wonder who. I understand that even in our times God uses the circumstances for his divine will. While I logically understand this, I doubt. Like the centurion, I beat my breast plate and say help me Lord in my unbelief. So I continue, I put one foot in front of the other. If I cannot make the place where I worship the place where I find God, then I need to out and continue to search the world around me.
The week when we were discussing the church calendar I was reading my bible and praying. I have a deep passion for the church calendar. I love how the colors change, how we are always different people each year so while the readings are always the same how we see them is always different. We grow and our church congregations grow so we all move closer to being united with God through Jesus Christ. I had difficulty understanding why students would not appreciate the routine certainty that the church calendar provides.
Then I realized through the reading of Matthew 22, that God’s intention was never for the church to have the number of rules that it does. The rules restrict individuals from being part of the priesthood of all believers. We are all called to minister to the sick and to the poor. We are all called to read and share the good news. Most importantly we are all called to remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Christ mentions when there are two or more gathered he is there. The holdup becomes when we view that the church should have no ordained priest from the apostolic succession we lose the order and ritual that worship has.
It is not the degree the individual how obtains a degree in ministry is fit for being a preacher but is the calling of God. I often will ask myself as the church struggles to get Millennials into their doorsteps will they continue to be tight about who can administer the sacrament? I guess it is what theological stance you make on the matter. Roman Catholics will remain true to their beliefs that only ordained men can perform communion. This is because of the concept of transubstantiation. The individual who performs Holy Communion must be like Christ. Zwingli challenged that idea which became known as the memorialist point of view. The importance of this view is that the believer remembers the sacrifice by Christ and through grace acknowledge the presences of Christ in our hearts so we can share that with others. If the theological mindset is like Zwingli does this mean anyone can perform the worship service of Holy Communion? If this is the case, is this what will be the end of the theological discussion on the Eucharist? So, I am left with the thoughts of the Christian faith ever must go underground again, who will perform the Holy Communion service in no priest is available? This class has made me take a long look at the concept of a priesthood of all believers.
This summer has been challenging. Part of me would love to open my own church separate from any denomination but instead be open to anyone who has been called. I would use the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. We would hold morning and evening prayer every day. We would call the Holy Spirit to fill our worship space. Most importantly though we would love one another. We would have quiet contemplative time where people could come in and just sit to be in God’s presence. At every meal, we would offer up a sacrifice to the Lord and call upon the Holy Spirit to transform our sacrifice into the body and blood of Jesus Christ and to renew our souls. Then there is that part of me still holds faith there is a church that is like that somewhere that is meant for me. A place where they do not sacrifice each other in times of trial but instead lift of their hands to the Lord and worship him.
I have often cried reading the books in this class. Trying to find how the new worship service I experience relates to the senses talked about by Saliers or the importance of the theology of worship talked about by Peterson. To be honest, I am still struggling. As I am two weeks away from starting an internship maybe this is where I can connect with the worship and love of the church. The books have been difficult to read because it continues to drive home what points of worship are important for me and remind me of how God wants me to worship him. The books and discussions we had on the forum boards and even including the worship service visit remind me while visiting and discussing new age forms of worship are interesting I will always be in my heart am orthodox Anglo-Catholic.
So, this summer I am on a less stable footing that I was in the spring. I have been reminded through this class who I am and what I value and crave in a worship service. I have also been reminded that Worship is not something we do in the confines of four walls and a roof but it is something we take outdoors. Worship is an activity that must be done from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep. If we are to believe that we carry the love and light of Jesus Christ within ourselves there is no need for doors, walls or a roof. We need people and love.
People and love are important for worship. While worship can be done without anyone present it can be lonely and solitary in nature. Therefore, finding someone to worship with becomes key to the impact of worship on our day to day life. It has been often said that like Jesus men should lead our households. Our primary place of worship should be in our homes. If we overlook the importance of worship in the home with our families. We miss out on experiencing the awe in living our day in worship and in prayer. Peterson focused a great deal on the mechanics of worship and its impact on the community of the church but failed to address the private individual small group worship that should occur daily with others. The closest an author got to addressing this was Saliers. His descriptions of senses were a personal experience and an individual’s responses to the ritual orthodox traditions of a service as described in Peterson section on sacraments.
This course assisted in defining who I am and what forms of worship are important to me. The daily ritual of writing my ritual practices at the end of the day helped me identify that I am still connecting with the Lord in new ways. While I am still in search for a new home and a new family. My hope is to find myself continuing my growth and development in various worship styles so I can have a deeper understanding of who I am as a worshiper. So even after this class and after my experience with getting my degree in Practical Theology, I will continue to search for a place where I can call home. This means I will know what I expect and understand who I am and what I desire in a community of like-minded believers who take the time to worship the Lord together as a community to me.
 Matthew 28:16-20
 Peterson, Brent D. Created to Worship: Gods Invitation to Become Fully Human. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2012. 21.
 Saliers, Don E. Worship come to its senses. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996. 20.
 Ibid. 23.
 Ephesians 6:19. KJV.
 1 Peter 2:5. KJV.
 2 Corinthians 1:4. KJV
 Peterson, Brent D. Created to Worship: Gods Invitation to Become Fully Human. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2012. 64-65.
 Mark 9:24. KJV.
 Matthew 22:36-40. KJV.
 Matthew 18:20. KJV.
 Peterson, Brent D. Created to Worship: Gods Invitation to Become Fully Human. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2012. 176.
 Ibid. 177.
 Ephesians 5:22-24. KJV.
 Acts 6:4. KJV.