Worship - a personal view

This is a kind of “What Worship Means To Me” piece, so I’m not preaching at anybody, just, as it were, sorting my own ideas out on paper.

I think I’m supposed to be focusing on worship during services in church, but I can’t separate it out that cleanly from the other aspects of worship - my own ‘private’ worship and everyday-life worship (which is possibly the most important and certainly the most difficult!)

In a nutshell, my idea is that worshipping God means offering Him, as fully as I possibly can, all that I am as truthfully as I can; warts and all. A me-shaped bundle of adoration and grumbles and enjoying the sunshine, and doubts and anxieties and hopes and longings, with which I leap into His welcome like a child into its parent’s arms. (Sorry, getting poetic here.) Possibly all of that is only the beginning of worship before the “me” bit has the grace to surrender centre-stage to the grace, the welcome, of God alone; (like taking all your clothes off before surrendering to the hot water in the bath). Anyway, it is sometimes wonderfully liberating, sometimes painful, sometimes both, and often just a dry, empty slog but I do it anyway. As long as it is as near the truth as I can get, then I dare to hope that God accepts it as true worship, even if I have spent most of the time wool-gathering.

In my private times of prayer, that’s about what I try to do. During the rest of the day, I aim to do it in little bits and pieces which… um, embrace?… anything and anybody around. Or to put it another way, worshipping God is a sort of background noise interweaving with and gathering up everything else, and occasionally it becomes a foreground noise. That’s the theory; as I said, it is the most difficult thing, and if you can do it please tell me how.

Now, as for worshipping in church… well, I am basically rather a solitary person, so doing anything communally can be quite a challenge. However, for what it’s worth, I am acknowledging that however solitary I may feel I am part of something more, as my little finger is part of a far larger, more complex - and mysterious - concern. My personal capacity to be open to God becomes part of our capacity. I am just one bee in the hive, and the hive has its own life and personality far greater than the sum total of all the individual bees. Not that we as individual persons are swamped; rather we become more fully our true selves. We are that part of humanity, of creation, which is consciously offering itself to God on behalf of all - and to whom, on behalf of all, God pours out himself. And I am definitely getting out of my depth here.

Kyoko has just read this and says I’m much too serious, so I’ll add a little story. My parents, after sixty years of marriage, remarked: “We do a lot of laughing together, you know.” I think worship may have quite a bit of that in it, too.

Richard Evans

© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 4th November 2000