Worship is what defines us as a community of faith. Is is that which marks us as distinct from a book club, a social network, a band of artists or activists. Of course we can be all of those things, but a central part of our mission at Church in the Cliff is their integration into our worshiping core. We strive to be a church where you can bring your intellect, your passion for human rights, your creative practices into the worship space. And I am convinced that we are all enriched by each others’ gifts in these areas and that when we bring our authentic selves to worship that God meets us there.
What does it mean to come together, Sunday after Sunday, and to worship? What is really happening in that space that we claim as sacred? During this summer we have taken some creative license in defining spiritual practices that nourish, and will continue to do so (have you seen what is on deck for the rest of August?) But worship as a spiritual practice is undeniably one of the great consensus points in Western Christianity. It matters that we gather together with the understanding that somehow, through the mysterious flow of the Spirit, we are transformed.
Now, I have attended worship services that are less than transformational. A lot of them. Worship services where you check your watch during the sermon, where you look around, see people sleeping, and wonder “what is going on here?” While that is less likely to happen in our services – hard to sleep when you are singing Sly & The Family Stone or making meaning during the Conversation time – we are vulnerable to our own set of obstacles to encountering God in the worship space (every congregation is.) And I hope to open up that topic a bit tonight.
Yet, I love worshiping at Church in the Cliff. I celebrate that our worship space is in a community center overlooking the pond. We don’t have the privilege of retreating to four walls which are all our own. And so we worship, right there in front of other people, in front of those who come in just wanting a drink of water, or to play a pickup basketball game. We sing in front of the geese and the morning mommy walkers. We break bread and drink coffee and sometimes have a shimmering transcendent experience of the Divine. All right there in the Kidd Springs Recreation Center.
For me, the fact that we worship in such a venue foregrounds that our church is more a collective practice than a place. And all are warmly invited to join us even if you are not quite sure that church is your thing. Come this week if you need some uplift or some peace or some good coffee and snacks. Bring your whole selves, questions, doubts and all as we explore worship as a centering practice.
En Paz, In Peace,