I grew up being taught that worship was a thing we do toward God in exactly five acts, no more, no less, and that on Sunday all five of those must take place with a prayer before and after.
- Lord’s Supper
We also had the reading of scripture, which was never considered its own act. I guess it was supposed to be part of preaching. We always had a young man come up and read a passage before the sermon. When I was real little I thought there were two other acts of worship: making announcements, and gathering up the attendance cards.
But it always went back to this idea that we had to repeat to ourselves a few times a year that were were five acts of worship.
After starting college one time I visited a church very similar mine in another state. Also visiting was an older woman who had gone to my church for years. The one thing that stood out differently about this church was that, during the Lord’s Supper, which I had always been used to taking in near silence, a man got up to lead a song. Here we were, taking the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine, when suddenly everyone was singing a song.
It was new to me. I wasn’t used to it. Because it was different, a part of me raised an eyebrow.
But the older woman couldn’t believe it. She was appalled that they would overlap two acts of worship at the same time.
So while I was stirred out of comfort by a different way of doing it, I noticed how this woman was bent out of shape because she experienced a difference she could not understand was doable.
After all, where is it written that two “acts of worship” cannot occur simultaneously? I asked her, do we not sometimes sing songs that are prayers? And don’t some songs have scripture in them? Isn’t the Lord’s Supper talk a little sermon? With scripture? I didn’t get to talk to her more about it after that, but I hope she got over it.
The experience and interaction taught me to open my eyes and think more critically about the assumptions I make about worship. Some things I am sure of, other things I am sorting out. But if my comfort or discomfort with an idea is merely based on my experience, I should think before judging others.
Now I worship now with a congregation who frequently sings while taking the Lord’s Supper and while giving. I’m happy I’m there.