Recently, I taught a class for our Affirmation of Baptism students that was called: “God on Broadway.” The class was a combination of some of my passions — musicals, theatre, and faith. We focused on different plays and shows, looking at how a storyline taught us about our faith, or who God is, or why that even matters in today’s world.
While my heart swelled with pride as our young people were able to articulate the importance and potential hang-ups of “traditions” after we watched a clip from Fiddler on the Roof, and then it grew even bigger as they were able to see how our country’s struggle with racial divides goes against Jesus’ teaching to love our neighbors as ourselves after viewing “I know where I’ve Been” from Hairspray, there was a conversation that instilled such hope in me for the future of the church that I have to share it with all of you!
When I asked my class to name the ways Worship is a Verb they participated in a play, it was all very passive. “We clap at the end of a song or scene,” and “we get up to stretch at the intermission.” Primarily, they understood that when they enter a theatre’s production space, they are an audience member: there to be entertained, perhaps to be challenged or learn something new, but to keep quiet and pay attention. Then, when I asked them how this was different from the ways they participated in worship, the room exploded with ideas:
“We sing!” “We pray and say the creed!” “We acolyte and help with offering!” “I really like to usher and read the lesson.” “We get to take communion!” “Does it count when I sit by some of the little kids and help them pay attention?”
Yes! YES! YES! Participation is key here, because worship is a verb. We do not enter our sanctuary with the expectation that we are to clap after a scene, or sit quietly for the whole show. Because worship isn’t something we observe, worship is something we DO.
I’ve been saying it all year: “liturgy,” that is, our order of worship, literally translates to “the work of the people.” Which means that when we show up to worship on Sunday morning, or Saturday or Wednesday evening, we are actually showing up to work — to DO something. But the same is true in reverse: when we live our lives as claimed children of God, then even when we show up to work, or school, or meetings, or the grocery store, we can be living our lives as a continuous form of worship to God.
Every time we gather to worship, we do it together. We stretch our muscles of faith so that the whole world can know they are part of the story God is telling in our lives.
See you in church! Pastor Sarah