Last month, both in his pastoral letter and secretary’s notes, Ian referred to us thinking about what might be different going forwards, rather than rushing back to what used to be normal. Now shops have reopened people are being encouraged to go out and spend just as they were before, but in church we are being granted a longer period of reflection.
Being part of Elders discussions about what worship might look like when we are allowed to meet in the church buildings again inspired me to look back to some of the material from when I was training to become a lay preacher, when we considered what worship is, and what should be included in it.
Worship in church is something we do together. One of the lessons many of us have learned or relearned from lockdown is that being with other people is so important in our lives. As we set aside time for our relationship with God, that leads us to give time and thought to our relationships with each other.
Worship is something we do – the very word ‘liturgy’ comes from Greek word meaning work of the people. In worship we come to meet with God, we should expect a response to be demanded of us – empowered by the Spirit working within. Our worship should be worthy to offer to God and helpful for Christian growth in all who share it.
There are many ways people have tried to list elements which should be part of our worship. I quite like a list of 3 things:
- Gathering – we come together as the church, and as part of the wider church, we acknowledge God for who he is, and us as his people.
- Hearing the word – not just listening to a bible reading; we bring our memories, our culture, our life and faith experience to bear on asking what is God saying to us today?
- Responding to the word – expressed often through prayer, offering and song, but also action as we go out to be God’s people in God’s world.
So when (maybe sometime this month?) some at least of us are able to meet together in our buildings, it’s probably going to look and feel different from what we have been used to, but it will still be worship.