Preparing for Worship – Leanna Coyle-Carr, pastoral resident.
We sit in houses today that may not feel like home.
Things like global pandemics and national tensions have a way of making even the safest places feel uncomfortable.
Home is where we live and breathe and have our being, yes, but it is also now where we hash out work conflicts over buggy internet connections and balance raging anxieties with even weirder realities. Shelter-in-place has made home the container for everything that we do.
Maybe today we are weary of “home.” Maybe we are not really feeling at home, but rather frazzled in our scattered sanctuaries.
We are curled up in comfy clothes yet stretched as we try to worship at home.
But worship is always both a time of homey feeling and extraordinary experience.
Before sheltering in place, we gathered in our beloved Sanctuary, seeing familiar faces and smiling at new ones. We sang songs we know by heart and heard anthems fresh from the minds of church musicians. Our bodies moved as if by second nature, knowing when to stand and when (not) to applaud. And sometimes we would experience a liturgical curveball – dipping our hands into baptismal waters or tasting salt on our lips. We would encounter something different in our beloved Sanctuary.
Worship is a feeling of home and not.
The exiled Israelites encountered this truth in a faraway land. There were prophets popping up declaring that THIS year they would return “home” to Jerusalem. THIS week, we gather in the temple again. But Jeremiah, God’s prophet, sang a different song (see Jeremiah 29).
God wanted the people to find home right where they were. God wanted the people to find God right where they were. In fact, it was in this place of exile that the Israelites began to keep the Sabbath in a new way with prayers around the dinner table and blessings for their children.
They found the extraordinary in the ordinary, sanctuary in the midst of the secular.
So, it is a wonder, but maybe we are in a good place to worship after all – if we can follow the dancing wisdom in the midst of the mundane.
“Wisdom has built her house…
she has also set her table…
‘Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed’”
(from Proverbs 9:1-5)
Let us be at home with our God. Let us worship right where we are.