Worship is always an interruption. In the morning, as I sip my tea and offer prayers from my prayer list, my mind also begins to compile all the task for the day. I’ve taken to keeping pad and paper close by to jot down these tasks and to clear my mind. After prayer and with my list, I begin to plot. How many of these things can I get done by 8, by 9? What if I skip breakfast, the yoga stretch, or take the dog for a shorter walk? How many more can I get done? When my mind is really engaged in my list, I wonder how many tasks I can tic off the list if I skip worship. That is when I know that worship is the interruption my self-inspired universe needs.
Worship is the much needed interruption that puts the details of life in perspective. In worship settling into quietness places me as the appropriate, yet distinct, grain of sand that I am in God’s grand cosmos. Without me and all the other distinct grains of sand, there would be no beach to receive God’s loving waves. Being one of many assures me that God’s world will always be bigger than the world of my thoughts. My to do list while to me monuemental and important for today has a perspective in the grand horizon of the cosmos. What things on the list will really build up my place on the beach? What things are only a tangle of seaweed that will soon be washed away. Considering these questions certainly helps pare down that list.
Worship is the interruption that brings me back into sacred relationship with others. Relentlessly pursuing the list will keep my mind occupied and my sense of accomplishment in high gear, all day. At the end, I will feel important, in control, and efficient. What I won’t feel is fulfilled. The difference between being important and being fulfilled is that when I feel important I create my own measure and assement of what is important. When I feel fulfilled, it arises from joining with others in a shared relationship with God. Worship is rich with ‘other-than-me’ focus – singing, praying, learning, greeting, communing. These fulfilling moments of worship do not require that that personally know anyone who is singing and praying along with me. And, at the same time, worship is more fulfilling when I am present with others to whom my heart is deeply connected. The sacred, God-inspired relationship is all the distinct sand grains gathering as one beach.
Through those sacred relationships, worship is the interruption that fuels my gratitude. Consider what my experience of the world would be if the limits of the universe were in my head, based on my task list and measured by how important, in control and effiicent I feel at the end of the day. Then one bad day creates a very blue and sad universe. What if then that one bad day becomes a string of days to comprise a week? What happens when a crisis that is not in anyone’s control takes over? The task is now not the daily list but staying connected to compassion and love in order to survive? When the days, weeks, and even months are blue and sad, worship is the connection beyond my feelings, my thoughts, my fears, my judgements, and my anxiety to that other plane of life where joy and calm are possible. Worship allows for the inevitable sadness of human life to run parallet with the steadfast presence of God’s compassion. God’s compassion comes to me in those moments of joing with others and then hearing that my whole self in in the other and that she or he is also in me. When I touch the compassion offered, then the gratitude grows within me.
Worship is a interruption that puts the details of life in perspective, that brings me into sacred relationships, and that fuels my gratitude. When my ministry involved leading worship every week, my reflections on worship focused on the experience of God in the gathered community and how excellence (not prefection) in the whole liturgy teaches the faith. Since now I have the added dimension of choosing when and how I worship, I can reflect on this necessary and significant interruption. Like some many other people who are spiritual leaders and who are not leading worship, I feel the powerful tug of my to-do list and the tempting possibility of putting worship aside for other activities. However, as a leader, I am poorer if I make that choice because the details become larger than appropriate, relationships become transactional rather than sacred, and, gratitude untended and unused withers away. With worship, I am leader with perspective, relationships, and grateful heart.