Last night I had the good privilege of (merely) participating in one of our worship services at Bloom. Normally, when I’m at our gatherings, I’m uber-involved. And that’s okay, since I think that one of the tasks of a pastor is to lead the congregation into a God-soaked imagination… which means that part of a pastor’s task, to put it one way, is to lead worship. And I like doing that. Leading our community through the liturgical exercises (preaching included) that help orient our imaginations toward the beauty of God is one of the things I delight in.
But man… it’s nice to have a night off. The way our summer scheduling worked out, Michael was scheduled to preach the night after we returned from our Wisconsin vacation, which meant that I was afforded the opportunity to play a minimal role in the gathering. A (mere) participant, as it were.
Truth be told, I come to develop a low tolerance threshold for “going to church”… or at least “going to church” in the part of Christendom that I’ve been brought up in – the more or less evangelical world. I find most worship to be pathetically shallow and self-serving. I find the “liturgy” of most services to be thin or nonexistent at best. I find most preaching to be… well… dull, dry, boring, moralistic, overly therapeutic, self-helpy, pedantic nonsense having nothing to do with God and Scripture would be but a few of the criticisms off the top of my head. And I find all attempts to compensate for this by making the “cool factor” go up in these gatherings through the same kind of sound and light gimmicks used at rock concerts and the like to be an outrageous desecration of the (intended) holiness of corporate worship. Gag, gag, gag.
That said, I gained a (re)new(ed) appreciation for my church last night by (merely) participating. As a pastor and leader, my mind is constantly cluttered with things we need to do better at, improve at, grow in, stop doing, etc etc etc. Sometimes, that clutter prevents me from seeing what is beautiful about our community NOW… the glory right in front of my face.
Perhaps the best compliment, then, that I can give to my church is this – if I did not work for you, Bloom, I would without question worship with you. You sing your hearts out with un-hyped sincerity. You listen to the Word with earnestness and a desire to walk faithfully. You are at once able to confess your faith (“we believe…”) and yet at the same time acknowledge with total honesty your doubts and struggles. Your gathering SIMPLY DRIPS with familial love and affection – for God, for each other, and for the world He so desperately loves. God is worshiped and glorified in your midst… and you bear all the evidence of his glory shining on and through you. Well done. Well done. WELL DONE.
So there you have it… a pastor’s unembarrassed, gushing affection for his community. You are one beautiful Bride, Bloom. Keep it up.