From Lenten Guide 2023
The other day, Kate asked me a question. Before she asked it, I could tell this question would be important. Have you noticed that when Kate is inspired by the Holy Spirit, her eyes twinkle and her face glows? With a huge, expectant smile on her face, she asked, “Tell me how worshipping at St. John’s transforms people.” I pray she was not expecting a brilliant, extemporaneous answer, because right then, I was stumped. You see, I understand worship. I understand transformation. Yet, I had never thought about how one begets the other. Longing for a new spiritual exercise, I asked if I could study her question and put pen to paper.
What is worship? Can each of us worship differently, or does worshipping God require a formulaic approach consisting of specific actions or words? Casually scrolling through the Internet, I learned that the Hebrew and Greek root words for “worship” can have very similar meanings: to crouch, reverence, prostrate oneself, and bow down. Is worshipping God, then, simply achieved by physical action? If so, I thought, the only transformation our worship would beget is creaky knees and achy joints.
It is not, I realized, the physical act that transforms us, but rather, it is what the action represents. By literally and/or spiritually falling down at God’s feet, we are at our most vulnerable. Our human-ness exposed, we gain freedom from the misleading power of world and self. We boldly acknowledge God’s presence in our lives and our reliance on God, and thus, we become open to God-centered action – individually and communally.
Through our worship, we open our heart’s doors to God, and in our vulnerability, we are transformed. This is the point where answering Kate’s question becomes easy — so easy. There are many stories of transformation at our church. So many of us have changed. I have changed. We have overcome fears. We have asked for and been granted forgiveness. We have conquered our demons. We have healed broken hearts and bodies. We have nurtured talents and gifts. Such transformation happens because we are willing to worship together — to be seen by God and by each other – for what we truly are. Broken. Strong. Creative. Courageous. Loving.
During Lent, Holy Week, and Easter, we follow Jesus from his most vulnerable to his most transformative, and we recognize that, with God’s help, deep vulnerability and incredible joy are often intertwined. Transformation has no end. This season, may we also risk a little to strengthen the connections between us: attend a new service, sit in a different pew, participate in a new way. And, perhaps most important, through worshipping together, may we give thanks and praise for the abundant blessings that God has bestowed upon us — here in our old stone church – where the Cross meets Main.
Verger & Liturgical Coordinator