I hosted a blog series over the summer on worshipping God in the real world. To be honest I was a little disappointed with the response Most of the posts were about traditional spiritual practices like praying and singing hymns in the midst of everyday life. Now don’t get me wrong, I think that these are very important, but what I was really hoping for were more contributions that unpacked the ways that we can worship God through ordinary everyday acts of life like taking a shower, walking in the park and even reading the newspaper.
This week I have really gotten into Mark Pierson’s book The Art of Curating Worship . One of Mark’s motivations for developing the art of worship curation was his desire to connect the worship experience that occurs inside the church on Sunday with his everyday life. He talks about the need to:
develop an ability to see the stuff of ordinary life – stuff going on in the culture around your community – and bring it into the worship event in ways that enhance the ability of the the worshippers to engage with God with heart, soul, mind and strength.
As I read this I realized that asking people to view ordinary everyday aspects of life as worship is almost impossible when we have never before brought ordinary daily acts into a worship context. Worship services need to be transformed in the ways that Mark talks about so that our lives outside the church can be transformed into living acts of worship.
You may think this is rather strange, but reflecting on these thoughts this morning reminded me of Peter Seeger’s song Little Boxes which I have added at the bottom of this post as a possible meditation point. It seems to me that we do indeed live in little boxes – there is the worship box of Sunday morning which some can be as limited as the songs we sing, for others it embraces the liturgy of the service but for most of us it ends the moment we step outside the building. Outside is the life box with houses made of ticky tacky, and lives all the same – whether we go to church or not.
We must learn to take our worship outside the church box and do so we must continue to take church outside the boxes of tradition we have wanted to confine it in. To do so we must constantly encourage our worship leaders to become worship curators just like Mark suggests.
Unfortunately this is never easy because it means we also need to take theology outside the boxes in which we have placed it. As Mark comments:
A worship event should never be about theological purity. It should always be about ordinary people engaging their messy selves with the transformative person of the God who became flesh and lived in this messiness.
And that for me is where worship and the real world connect. As we take worship outside its boxes we become more sensitive to the presence of God in every ordinary mundane act of life and eventually all of life becomes worship to God. Would love to hear your thoughts on this. How do you think we move our understanding of worship outside the church box and into the world?