I was doing so well with my writing about our church experiences – for a while – then we hit what I can only describe as a ‘dry spell’; a drawn-out period where we were unsuccessful in filling our spiritual wells. Oh, it is not for lack of getting to churches and attending services, but ofttimes as we left churches after services we would look in our “spiritual buckets” and realize that not only were our buckets not full, but sometimes we had to look deep to find any nourishing moisture at all. Something was missing…we thirsted for Worship.
(Since I (Lisa) typically write these blogs and Richard edits them, typically I write from the First Person Singular (the “I” voice), however, for this blog entry I’m going to continue in the First Person Plural (the “we” voice) as I feel that I’m speaking for both of us.)
We both know that worshipping can only come from within – that no matter how great the preacher’s message, how beautiful the music, how well-read the Scripture, how appropriate the liturgy, how touching the prayers – none of this really can “make” us feel worship-filled. No one person can bring us closer to God; that’s between us and God.
Q: So, what is our problem with this worship dry spell?
A1: We have been spoiled in the past by having all the things just mentioned ‘given’ to us and we grew to expect it.
We now have new-found appreciations:
- For David, Kathy and the LUMC Choirs, where music is not about performance, but is a gift to those who have ears to hear and is an essential element to our worship experience.
- For the Order of Worship which guides us along a thoughtfully prepared path that allows us the opportunity to seek deeper meaning.
- For the beautiful traditions of our faith that we repeat and participate in as a family of believers – praying together The Lord’s Prayer, coming forward and kneeling as we renew our lives through Communion.
- For a preacher who has been inspired by the Word of God and strives to bring a message of hope and love and perseverance that offers me some morsel of truth to send me forth in this world to face it the best I can. (OK, that me; not that Richard, in all humbleness, wouldn’t agree with me; but I’m the one sitting in the car after another weak message crying “I just want to hear you preach.”)
A2: Maybe we have come to realize that by taking these wonderful gifts for granted, that we had become lackadaisical in our faith journey. Too often, we just show up and do what we do. As the Senior Minister and his wife, it was who we were, it was what we did. We were not always perfect, but we feel we held these trusted positions fairly well and experienced joy and meaning through them. And now…God, who are we? How are we to function in Your plan?
It takes a time to figure this all out, our plan in God’s Plan. As two people who love to travel, we know that in our faith journey that God never really wants us to just sit back and sleep in First Class comfort, magically arriving at the end destination. It is a journey, when we travel we don’t just show up at the airport or in a foreign country without doing some preparation beforehand. True, there are moments when a carefree approach to life should be experienced as it allows for moments of wonder. However, if we don’t prepare, there is so much that we will miss.
I guess our point of this is that too often we just arrive at church and expect someone else to do the work for us, to plan the trip, to fill the bucket and we leave disappointed, missing important moments, and feeling empty. Richard and I have specific worship needs, and as we continue to seek them we pray for guidance, meaning and moments filled with the Spirit so that we can live as God desires. We’re not for sure that this is something which we can ‘plan’ but we will continue to prepare as we go forward.
P.S. Please bear with me; I have some other blog posts that I want to write that will shed a more positive light amidst this rather gray time. It’s not all Ezekiel’s Dry Valley as we often are refreshed and renewed by moments in time and people along the way!