The Welcome of Worship

Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving — it doesn’t matter,
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow a hundred times,
Come, come again, come.
(J. Rumi)

The morning we showed up to worship, all of creation was already there praising.

The long prairie grasses were bowing, “Yes, yes!” and the trees also swayed to their rhythm. The slow buzzing of bugs laid a subtle accompaniment. Hawks swooped regally overhead, gliding on the summer sky. The farms dogs played along to the sound of movement, and the sun presided over the entire arena, reaching down to caress and hold each worshiper.

And we, also creatures here to praise, showed up after the whole show was already going.

We sat in lawn chairs under a tent and fanned ourselves with straw garden hats and baseball caps. We closed our eyes and breathed in the hymn. We set up a tiny altar by the peace pole, of flowers and stones and candles.

We sang about love, about wonder, about God.

And when it came time to preach, we passed a small stone from hand to hand among us, each of us offering words. Each of us sharing the light in our lives that shines from our very centers.

“I have a knack for explaining abstract concepts to people who have trouble understanding them,” said the lady on the beanbag.

“I make really good soup,” said the woman on my right, looking into her lap.

When my turn came, I, too, had trouble raising my eyes in such a holy moment. “I can write,” I shared. “I can write from my heart.” And they all nodded and murmured in agreement, these people who had never met me before.

And like that, we wove together our light to create a sermon, a message of hope.

And I wonder if we had passed the stone next to the hawk, or the sun, or the panting farm dogs, or the lazy buzzing bugs, or the prairie grasses… what would they have shared? How do they reflect the light?

But, oh, there’s no need to ask, they are already throwing themselves into the worship with everything they have. They are wearing praise like a cloak, emanating the light of God.

And then I know: even if I break my vow one hundred times, I am still as radiant as these. When I stumble, or wander, or despair, I am yet welcome in this sanctuary of creation’s praise to God.

And how beautiful and deep that truth is.


Shared with the wonderful community of light-shining people at:



Filed under Musings, My Faith Journey, Theology and Faith

4 responses to “The Welcome of Worship

  1. This is just gorgeous. What a lovely way to worship together. And yes, you can write– beautifully, and from the heart.

  2. Where did you find this group? It sounds fantastic, the way worship was meant to be.

    • mmm, indeed! I was actually visiting a friend’s worship community in western New York (where I’ve been doing some traveling.) They’re a Unitarian Universalist Church community, and as a special summer worship service, they were meeting out at a nature preserve run by two of the members. I was really excited to get to join them!

  3. it’s all so pretty Bristol, the picture you paint, how creations sings praise, and preaching by passing a rock, and our unworthiness – yet our total worthiness. I feel like I just walked through a church service – a good, spirit filled church service – and I hearted it. Thank you for that. We make so complicated with our Lord began with such simplicity. God bless and keep you Bristol.

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