Preparing for Worship – Jenna Sullivan, Pastoral Resident
I’m currently learning how to play the piano. Our beloved Jeff Brummel has taken up the task of teaching me. Jeff says he is in the musical teaching lineage of Johann Sebastian Bach. As someone with no prior music training, I will claim every bit of that tale with earnest pride.
Jeff is gracious and encouraging each week as I come to work on my newest lesson. If I conquer a new song or skill (like playing both hands at the same time!) I may just get a dinosaur sticker unless my younger student colleagues have picked all the good ones. From harmonic intervals to reading lines of music, I am gaining even more respect for the many musicians in our congregation.
Every Tuesday, we sit down together and Jeff listens to me play. I wonder if worship is a bit like a beginner piano lesson. We think of faith as something we already know exactly how to do. But what if it is actually new every time? What if we are learning a new line, practicing old ones and improving our skills each time? I wonder what would change about our attitude to worship if we truly felt that each week we were building our faith and learning exciting new things.
Like a gentle piano instructor, God sits beside us and listens to us stumble our way through challenging new insights. God hears us and encourages us. God is a masterful musician (even more impressive than Bach) who is willing to teach us new songs and skills. We practice skills like forgiveness, empathy and gratitude. We approach the pew like a piano bench and lean into the practice of faith once again.
We trust that there are many mysterious things about God and our life in Christ together that we do not yet know and have not yet perfected. We have much to practice. We are still beginners, even if we have practiced church our whole life.
Begin worship today ready to learn new skills and remember old ones. Join in an ancient practice that might just shape you in ways you never imagined. We’re so glad you are here. Maybe if you do really well today, you will get a dinosaur sticker. But I can’t make any guarantees.