“I lift my eyes to you,
O God, enthroned in heaven.” – Psalm 123:1
We are talking this month about how we worship our Lord. We are currently looking at different approaches to worship and which one might suit us best. I had the wonderful privilege yesterday of experiencing two completely different forms of worship, and it reiterated to me how very different we all are.
Our staff participated in a one-day retreat at the Benedictine Sisters Retreat Center in Cullman. There is a tangible peace about that place, and we were all fortunate to spend one day, in complete serenity, worshiping God any way we chose. Some of us prayed, some read, some drew, we all seemed to be doing something different, but all in the same spirit.
I chose to attend mid-day mass, a very formal service, and then to spend an hour walking the outdoor labyrinth and praying in silence. The two forms of worship represented by these activities are:
1. Traditionalists – Traditionalists are drawn to God through historic dimensions of the faith. They feel close to God when participating in services containing ancient rituals, symbols, sacraments, liturgies and music. They find comfort in the tradition and familiar structure of worship, which many experienced in childhood. For many traditionalists, their worship is made complete by singing well-known hymns, reciting the creeds and liturgies, and participating in Holy Communion.
2. Ascetics – Ascetics love God in solitude. They want nothing more than to be left alone in prayer. Ascetics have no need for music, beautiful surroundings, or other people in order to experience the presence of God. Ascetical spirituality is primarily internally driven, in which persons experience God most profoundly by being still and listening in the quiet.
As we can see, these two forms of worship are completely opposite of each other, yet each one is profoundly powerful in the lives of the participants. I have begun to realize something about myself in the study of these temperaments. Now that I have identified the forms that speak to me the most powerfully, I have also come to appreciate the others more fully. I can now see elements of all the forms that would appeal to people, and the necessity for all forms to be supported by our church.
So, I am curious. Is there anyone out there that finds themselves in one of these camps or the other? Is anyone willing to share the reasons why they are drawn to one form or another? I love to hear others’ stories. It helps me to understand people better by learning how they connect to God.
I, myself, have found ways to appreciate all forms of worship that I have encountered. However, I am most comfortable in Ascetic settings. Not only am I most comfortable, but I find that I crave those times of solitude when it is just God and me. And nothing else. A holy peace surrounds me and I tend to have great clarity in those times. My spirit is calm as I encounter the Holy Spirit, one-on-one. But that is just me. How about you?
Peace Brothers and Sisters!
Praise be to Your Holy Name! Thank You for all the ways You make Yourself available to me. Thank You for all the different ways You speak to me. Thank You for allowing me to approach Your throne on terms that I feel comfortable with. You are a God worthy of all my praise and worship. I hope that You find my offering acceptable in every way.
In my Savior’s name I pray,