Thursday, 18 May 2017
The reorientation of worship
The single most important thing I did for thirty-five years was stand before a congregation each Sunday morning and say, "Let us worship God." I loved doing that, loved the hours spent getting ready to do it, loved entering into the action that followed. And then my vocation took an unexpected turn and I wasn't doing it any longer.
What I've done for others all these years, I'm now having done for me -- and how I do appreciate it. Every call to worship is a call into the Real World. You'd think that by this time in my life I wouldn't need to be called anymore. But I do. I encounter such constant and widespread lying about reality each day and meet with such skilled and systematic distortion of the truth that I'm always in danger of losing my grip on reality. The reality, of course, is that God is sovereign and Christ is savior. The reality is that prayer is my mother tongue and the eucharist my basic food. The reality is that baptism, not Myers-Briggs, defines who I am.
Very often when I leave a place of worship, the first impression I have of the so-called "outside world" is how small it is -- how puny its politics, paltry is appetites, squint-eyed its interests. I have just spent an hour or so with friends reorienting myself in the realities of the world -- the huge sweep of salvation and the minute particularities of holiness -- and I blink my eyes in disbelief that so many are willing to live in such reduced and cramped conditions. But after a few hours or days, I find myself getting used to it and going along with its assumptions, since most of the politicians and journalists, artists and entertainers, stockbrokers and shoppers seem to assume that it's the real world. And then some pastor or priest calls me back to reality with "Let us worship God," and I get it straight again, see it whole.
-Eugene H. Peterson, Take & Read: Spiritual Reading: An Annotated List, 27-28.