I had an epiphany this break. I was reading Christianity Today. By the way, that magazine is amazing. I’m usually pretty cynical about Christian institutionalized things, but this magazine is often just packed with edification and encouragement. Feel free to give me a subscription. At any rate, it was talking about worship, in particular the mystical aspect of worship. It was discussing how people seem to be drawn towards the mystical nowadays.
I won’t go into detail, but I think that the greatest thing, OK, maybe not the greatest thing, but one of the most important things lacking in worship in the Protestant church today is the mystical. I know I will not do justice to the cogent and compelling article, but it mentioned how the liturgy today (and we don’t even call it a liturgy, although really that’s what it should be) seems very bent on the practical or the intellectual. Not that that’s bad, but it has caused us to lose a sense of wonder. Wonder at the great God that we really do have.
So first of all, I think most churches treat the sermon as the centerpiece of the service. Which isn’t necessarily wrong. Maybe it’s right. But the way the sermon is treated, sometimes I wonder really how much of that is the congregation worshiping. Because it’s usually a didactic like an intellectual exposition on theology or a practical application of the word in our lives. And again, this isn’t bad, and it’s not necessarily not worship, either. But as the centerpiece of the worship, I do think there should be a place for the mystical, a place where we don’t need to learn about theological treatises or pragmatics but really just bask in the wonder of God. I think they do that in the Bible. Like when they dwell on and on about what God has done. How he’s the creator, the savior, etc. I think that’s just basking in the wonder of God, the mystical greatness of who God is. And that’s really above intellectual understanding and isn’t really of itself a practical thing.
Ack this is’t coming out as coherently as I would like. But I feel like the church today is afraid of emotions or something. And granted emotions can lead us astray, but I feel like we take it to the extreme, so that we drain things, in particular the service, of emotion just to make sure that it’s not purely emotions that are leading us. I want to see more emotions in worship.
And I think we’re called to the mystical aspect of God in worship. Two of Jesus’ direct commands for the church is for Communion and Baptism. And I think you can try and intellectualize it, and you can try and give it practicality, but in the end, these two sacraments, commanded by Jesus, I think are just somewhat mystical. You don’t even have to understand what it’s all about to know you have to do it, and Jesus doesn’t even go in perfect detail why exactly we should do it. But we are commanded to do it. And I think these things really are mystical. And it should instil in us a feeling of wonder at our God. Even in this, I think, we’ve lost something, so that when we take communion, we have to apply something practically, or use that to make a theological point. Or with baptizm, the pastor might use that to teach us about the responsibilities of the body of Christ. Which again isn’t bad, I just would like to see sometimes just enjoying that spiritual sense by itself. If that makes sense. Sorry, I’m tired.
We’re really good at the truth part. But we forget, not only that we are to worship in spirit and in truth, but that Jesus says that God is spirit. I’m sure He’s truth also, whatever that means, but Jesus described Him as saying God is spirit. And I think there’s something significant there.
So now I’m losing my mind because I’m tired. But my bold claim is there needs to be a lot more outpouring of emotions in worship. My bold claim (and this is bold) is that when we sing, we don’t even always need to worry that as we sing that we truly are giving our intellectual assent. I think at times it’s ok to just get caught up totally in emotion, as long as it is focused on Christ and towards God, without being so caught up with whether we really mean what we’re singing. Bold?
I feel sad now because I haven’t done the article justice and I haven’t really articulated my thoughts well. But oh well. Peace3.