Friday, July 22, 2016

Why Worship? The Rev. J. Gary Brinn in Constructive Faith

We worship God because we are toward God and toward God- as-experienced-in others. Moments of communal worship are moments of doubling, of tripling, of giving and receiving; a threefold relationship of self, other, and God.

Communal worship appears to be dying fast. Many raised in the church no longer go to what the church offers as worship services.

Many of those who no longer attend still seek for meaning and lead spiritual lives. But they see no value in the exercise of communal worship because they do not connect with or experience God there.

This isn't surprising given that we have worked on the how of worship without ever addressing the why. The failure is ours as the church.

Experiencing moments of transcendence and being a part of efforts that make a difference in the world can be participated in elsewhere, perhaps even in better, more authentic forms.

So then why do we gather together to worship?


We do not praise God to bargain with God.

We do not praise God for God's own sake.

Praising God, however right, is driven by our humanness because we are toward God in our being.  Praise is just one mood of this towardness, of this relatedness. Our thriving as humans depends on our interconnectedness.

We are not simply animals designed to rut and reproduce because we have this x in the equation; our souls. We see evidence of this mysterious x in art, in sacrificial love and in that part of us that soars toward God and toward the other (the other beyond one's own family/tribe, for even thieves take care of their own).

And so we act out our praise of God, this mysterious way in which we are toward God, in community, in acts of worship. Moments of communal worship are moments of doubling, of tripling, of giving and receiving; a threefold relationship of self, other, and God.

This is why no worship that is about meeting my individual needs will ever be real worship.  Worship can involve transcendence, can speak to changing the world, can give you the tools to get through next week, can give you comfort when you need comfort and challenge you when you are stuck, but it does so only in that it aligns with being toward God and toward God-as-experienced-in the other.

The full article is available here