Yesterday, I had lunch with friends whom I hadn’t seen since before Christmas, and we did a bit of belated evaluation on the Christmas services. ‘How did they go?’ someone asked, and between us (and thus discussing various churches) we offered such sophisticated evaluation as ‘they went well’, ‘the atmosphere was good’, ‘numbers were up’, and ‘people liked the sherry afterwards’. That was about all our lunch time conversation demanded. But it left me thinking about how we evaluate worship. And more basically how we engage meaningfully with it.
During Lent, the congregation in Rothesay will be looking at Liturgy — and no doubt some of that teaching will find it’s way here. But first I want to look at worship from the point of view of the person worshipping. What makes for a ‘good service’? What are the factors that contribute to our having a positive, vivid sense of encounter with God, and what threatens to get in the way?
As I thought about it last night, I realised that what was consistent about my most significant experiences of worship was not the particular liturgy or the beauty of the music or the style of the celebrant, but my own preparedness and willingness to respond. So, I’m going to offer a number of posts on the mechanics of preparation and response — the stages I go through, and that I suspect many of us need to go through, to engage fully with worship.
And I’ll begin — later today — with the first step: choosing to worship.