I have been wrestling with this one for a while (without coming to any real conclusions), so I want to pose it as a question. Do you worship best when the songs/liturgy/service order are familiar to you or if everything is different and new? Here’s why I ask.
I understand that most of our worship practices are grounded in tradition. And not just traditional in the “well that’s how grandma’s church did it” sense. I’m talking about in the “this is the way the church worshiped 2000 years ago” sense. Take the Apostles Creed for example. Aaron Mansfield always says that the creed has been used to preach, teach and defend the Gospel almost as long as there has been a church. Wow. There’s something to that. Grounding ourselves to tradition takes us out of the “worship style” debate because it tells us that we are a part of something that is bigger than us in the first place. As we gather to worship, are we not gathered to tell God’s story? Is it naive of us to assume that we can tell that story better than the early church?
Secondly, I think we are naturally drawn to that which is familiar to us. For those of us that grew up in the church, there are few moments more engaging than a rousing rendition of “Come Thou Fount.” It triggers something deep inside of us. A memory. The freedom to let go and worship. A connectedness to all of the saints who have sung that familiar chorus over the past 275 years. Warm fuzzies perhaps.
But is that worship? Does familiarity with a song or prayer grow us closer to God? My personal experience tells me that some of my best worship moments have come when I was most vulnerable. And I am often most vulnerable when I am not comfortable. There is more room for the Spirit to work, because true vulnerability in worship leads to real transformation. And transformation opens us up for God’s grace to work in our lives. And because we have experienced that transforming grace, we can better tell God’s story, no?
So what do you think? How do you best experience God in worship?