Katie Snipes Lancaster
Scripture: Psalm 62:1
Let every living thing praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Spiritual Practice: Centering Prayer
In a 2018 publication, my worship professor Cláudio Carvalhaes wrote, “Our worship is our wireless connection with one another, bodies next to bodies, connected by something that is fully there and also, in some ways, isn’t.” And yet for the last year, bodies-next-to-bodies has been impossible. The complete fracturing of our ability to worship “in the ways we’ve always known” will have a lasting impact on all of us. For me it’s highlighted the embodied nature of worship: something distinct is happening within and between us (both personally and communally) when we worship together and online worship makes me wonder what together means. Online worship lets us worship “with” people who otherwise could not worship, like those in hospital or nursing care settings, or those traveling for business or family visits. And yet, it accentuates the unnamed thing that is missing when we are not able to be physically together. The tension of course, will resolve, when we have both online worship and embodied community together in person. But it is a good thing to reflect on now, while the limits on our gathering still yet push us to think in new and different ways. What has this time of together/apart shifted for you as you’ve intentionally sought out ways to worship? What do you miss most about our embodied gatherings? (Those aren’t rhetorical questions… really, email me.)
Bodies-next-to-bodies is not Cláudio Carvalhaes’ only definition of worship. He also says, “For Christianity, worship is one of many acts of love; worship is a privileged place to learn, live and rehearse this love. Inside the worship space, the whole world is challenged and reordered—or should be. There is nothing more pressing, more urgent and more needed in our world today than to love one another. Everywhere we are confronted with this demand to love. The worship space is where we fix, re-orient, re-learn and find better ways to love.” Or as Pope Francis more simply put it, “church is a school of love.”
Let us worship God together. Let us learn love. Together. In worship. In community. Bodies-next-to-bodies or online or some hybrid of the two. Let us worship God together.
God, you teach us love.
You let us rehearse and reimagine love in worship.
You challenge us to love more intuitively, more instinctively, more honestly.
You teach us an indiscriminate love.
So, let us love.
Help us love.
Train us up in love.
Show us love.
so that we might distribute your love
wide and true.