I recently read Richard Foster’s classic The Celebration of Discipline. If you’re not up for diving into all 12 disciplines, can I invite you to read just his chapter on worship?
Brace yourself: it’s convicting.
Or maybe that’s just me.
I’m on staff at a church, so Sunday mornings are one of the most hectic times of my work week. I’m often filling in for missing Sunday School teachers or throwing together puppet shows or craft activities at the last minute.
Truth be told, sometimes I’m hiding in the choir loft by the time worship rolls around. Or at least sneaking coffee hour snacks from the Fellowship Hall.
Foster reminded me that praise is a sacrifice that we offer to God, and the praise we offer together as a community is impacted by the state of our individual hearts when we walk into the church building.
We need to be practicing hearing God’s voice all week so we will be more open and ready to hearing it from the pews on Sunday mornings. Worship is to “permeate the daily fabric of our lives,” as Foster puts it. If we aren’t accustomed to inviting the divine into our own mundane moments, we won’t be ready for it in corporate worship either.
I’ve been carrying that conviction around inside me for the last few months, and I can tell you: it’s been changing the way I enter into worship on Sunday mornings.
I want to be ready to be changed, not only because I’m entering a sacred space of communal worship, but because I’ve been tending to my spirit throughout the week. I am grateful to those who worship with me that they, too, are bringing their vibrant spiritual selves to the sanctuary.
As Foster writes, worship “is not for the timid or comfortable. It involves an opening of ourselves to the dangerous life of the spirit.”
Thank goodness we’re on the adventure together.
How do you prepare your own heart for communal worship? Do you think Foster is right that worship is a risky business? Have you ever found yourself hiding in the choir loft?