Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Power of Worship

I preached about desire last Sunday - that at the most basic level of our humanity, we are lovers - we desire. So then the question for us isn't whether we desire, but what we desire. Are our desires pure and altruistic? Do they benefit the rest of creation? Are they selfish and harmful? What do we desire?

Many of these thoughts were aided by a philosopher named James K.A. Smith. Smith argues, in a book called Desiring the Kingdom, that we naturally create cultural liturgies around our desires. We form rituals and practices that reinforce that which we love and desire. These desires are varied and diverse, ranging from sports and art and hobbies to social justice, spirituality, and volunteer work. We form rhythms around our desires. Borrowing from Augustine, Smith reminds us that,
"We are what we love."
Which leads me to worship. As a Christian, if I claim to love and desire God and relationship with God, then my cultural liturgies I create will manifest themselves in what we normally think of as worship. But we don't just create these cultural liturgies - we don't just create worship liturgies - they also create us. There is a symbiotic power in worship, where we don't shape a worship gathering, but it shapes us as well. Too often worship is thought of as a passive event that you simply attend. But worship isn't just some boring, rote ritual we perform. It's not placebo; it's not a crutch; it's not a task to cross off in our weekly schedule. It's not even something we go to. Once again, from Jamie Smith,
"Liturgy isn't something that you do; it does something to you." 
Worship shapes us; forms us; takes us from one place to another. We don't stand on the outside of a worship gathering and witness the liturgy. Worship is no spectator sport. We join in; we play a role; we get implicated into something bigger than ourselves. We join together with thousands of years and millions of people who have stepped into the formational process and allowed themselves to be moved, changed, transformed. So if you love God - if that's where your desire is located - then show up to the worship gathering expecting to get changed; for something to happen; for the liturgy to do something to you - because I guarantee it will.