I didn't want to go to church yesterday. I was feeling tired, a little heavy-hearted and anti-social, and I was worried about the gas money. Still, I have learned over the last few years that I want to be someone who is committed to community. And I want to be someone who is committed to trusting a God who wants to speak even when I don't want to listen.
It was like a breath of fresh air for my heart. Not because of any spetacular movements of the Spirit or astounding words from a sermon. Yesterday, for the first time, I was really able to experience what I have read about from lovers of liturgical traditions: I found rest and encouragement in the rhythm of the invocation and confession of faith, in the prayers that were prayed and the music that was sung.
As we began the morning, the invocation was read: "God of all our beginnings, may this day and every day begin with our praise to you. Let every breath become a witness to your Spirit, dwelling within and among us. Open our hearts to receive your saving gifts. Loosen our tongues to proclaim your unsurpassed greatness. May the noise of our celebration help your people to sense your powerful presence and to claim the joy of serving you, in Christ's name. Amen."
The noise of our celebration. The noise of tongues loosed to proclaim the greatness of God. I was struck by this in a way that lit fire in me for a moment. Am I celebrating? Can people hear the noise of my jubilation? I felt so challenged to live a life that is a rowdy celebration of the the joy of knowing God.
A moment later, a section of the affirmation of faith struck me: "We believe the God of Jesus encounters us in the whole of life--not in the special and extraordianary so much as in the ordinariness and reality of our lives and they are lived, and died."
Encounters us...in the ordinariness and reality of our lives. Have I been looking for him there? Have I been inviting him into my day-to-day? Perhaps to do so would be cause for that great celebration that serves to remind many of his presence.
As the morning went on, there was beauty in the words of the hymns, truth in those sung by the choir. There was encouragement in the call to confession and the recitation of prayer. Yes, worship came in the rhythm of participation...of words to read aloud in community, of listening to those sung aloud to me. My heavy heart did not have to muster its own song or affirmation, just to stand with those in the family of God and declare aloud words of faith and belief. I had only to offer my yes--Yes, I believe this to be the determining truth of my life. I suppose it was God revealing himself, as in the pastor's prayer, to be a "God who makes the common holy." It was God ecnountering me in the ordinariness of the tradition.