Worship For All
At one moment during worship this past Sunday – when our children were especially excited – Miss Skylar hopped up onto the stage and I motioned to her to come sit with me. She walked right over and I picked her up and placed her in my lap. I whispered to her, “Do you see all those people out there who came today to worship God? Isn’t that wonderful?”
Through her smile, she mumbled, “Uh-Huh!”
“Do you see your mommy and Gigi out there?” I asked.
“Uh-Huh,” she giggled.
“I bet you are really glad to have your mommy here today.”
Again, she giggled, “Uh-Huh!”
“I am so glad you are here, too! /your excitement reminds me how excited God is when we get our church family together for worship.”
One last time, Skylar said, “Uh-huh!” Then she hopped back down and ran back to the other children.
I remember being afraid to go up on the chancel area where the pastor sat when I was a child. Church was always so quiet, somber and serious. There were so many rules for worship – such as be quiet, sit up straight, feet on the floor, hands in your lap and so on – that for along time I never really thought of God as being capable of smiling, laughing or being excited. Instead, I only really saw God as serious and stern.
When I got older and became involved in a church that was more lively, friendly and engaging during worship, my understanding of God began to change. I realized that it was okay to laugh, smile, and be excited during worship, and that God actually wants us to do so. And I began to realize that God is not just a quiet, distant, serious, and rigid God, but that God is every bit as lively and excited as Skylar was when she hopped up in my lap Sunday morning.
I wish I had been a part of a church when I was Skylar’s age that valued and appreciated the energy and spirit that children bring to worship. I wish my laughter and excitement had been encouraged the way we do at Hood now through the instruments and leadership of our children.
And yet, I am also mindful that we want our children to know the quiet and contemplative and serious God as well. Because later in their lives, there will be trials and disappointments where they will need the quiet and reflective God who can wrap those God-arms around them in peace, stillness and comfort.
As we continue to create an atmosphere of worship that includes our children, let’s remember to include both lively praise and quiet reflection. Both are part of God and part of us that require expression if we are to be honest and authentic in our worship. For those who grew up like me with only quiet, solemn, and serious worship services, we may be challenged by our children’s excitement. And for others, even the energy of our children may not be enough liveliness!
My commitment as one of your pastors is to create an environment where all are welcome, where there is a balance of the serious and the excited, where there is space for us to learn that reverence includes both reflection and liveliness, and where everyone is challenged to worship God in ways that include the full range of our personalities and emotions. I pray that you will enjoy the journey feeling free to say, “Hey, pastor, we really included something for everyone today” or “Pastor, we can do better!”
Sometimes we will be a little too lively, and sometimes we will be a little too serious. I pray that we will give space for both realizing that our worship of God cannot be contained in any one thing – not just serious, not just contemplative, not just praise, not just any one way. Authentic worship of God must include all of us – every person, every prayer, every emotion, every thought, every act that honors our relationship with our Creator. Let it be so with us!
If You Missed Last Sunday’s Sermon…
Listen to Changed – Matthew 17:1-9
God’s Words for This Week
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 – The Lord God took the human and settled him in the garden of Eden to farm it and to take care of it. (CEB, v.2:15)
Psalm 32 – You are my hiding place, you will protect me from trouble (NIV, v.7)
Romans 5:12-19 – Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. (The Message, v.21)
Matthew 4:1-11 – ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ (NRSV, v.4)
This Week at The Hood
Wednesday, March 1, 6:00 pm – Ash Wednesday Service
Thursday, Feb 16, 3:30 pm – Prayer & Inspiration
Thursday, Feb 16, 6:00 pm – Choir Practice
Sunday, March 5, 11:00 am – Worship – First Sunday of Lent
Sunday, March 5, 12:30 pm – Church Board Meeting
January 17, 2018
January 16, 2018
January 10, 2018