I know it’s already Wednesday, but I’ve been thinking a lot about worship from this past Sunday night. Our community got together like we do every other Sunday evening for dinner, worship and discussion. (Big “THANK YOU” to Jim and Elaine for hosting us and feeding us way beyond any descent levels of human consumption!)
Any way, I don’t know how to describe the worship time. It was great, but that word doesn’t capture it. On Thursday, we’ve been discussing the Story of God and we spent time looking at Creation as the first chapter of that story. So for Sunday’s worship, Kerri wrote out the creation story from Genesis and broke it into parts so everyone — including all of the kids — could read the story. As the story was read, she re-enacted creation on a flannel board. Yeah a flannel board.
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t grow up in the local church. So my only reference to flannel board stories are historical, kind of like record players and typewriters. I’ve never experienced one before.
Sunday’s worship was great because it captured several important aspects of biblical worship. First, we worshipped with a story. The first story. I’ve been lingering on the whole idea of “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth.” It’s a story we all live in, but take for granted. Watching that story unfold before my eyes was awesome. I was reminded how connected and responsible I am to God’s creation around me.
Second, everyone got to worship together. It was neat sitting with my kids, the Feliciano kids and all of the adults, waiting for our parts to join in the story. At that moment, we were all on equal ground. We were all waiting our turn to join in worship with the community through our contribution to the story. My kids weren’t simply observers or sitting in another room. They participated with everyone.
Third, this moment of worship was possible because Kerri offered her talents and gifts to the community. She is such a creative person. And although speaking in public makes her nervous, she offered herself and her arts to the community as a vehicle for worship. It was neat watching the story unfold on flannel board — night and day being formed, vegetation, animals, birds, fish, humanity. And as the flannel board moved from a dark blank slate to a symphony of vibrant colors, shapes and life, I was reconnected to the incredible creativity of God.
As I’ve been thinking about Sunday’s worship, I’ve realized this is what worship is supposed to be like. It’s being swept up in the current of God’s story. It’s not ahistorical. It’s embedded in the BIG story that we’re all supposed to be living in. It’s also experienced as a community where every person is an equal participant and stands on equal ground regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, education or any other contrived categories. And it’s also a gift of our talents and life offered back to God for his glory.
As Paul says in Romans 12:1, “I urge you, then, brothers (and sisters), remembering the mercies of God [God’s story], to offer your bodies [individual talents and lives] as a living sacrifice [singular act of community], dedicated and acceptable to God; that is the kind of worship for you, as sensible people.”