Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Eve

So Christmas Eve is a stressful time for people who work in the church. I'm sure I have lots of friends on Facebook that can sympathize. One of the most refreshing things that a church worker can do, on occasion, is find a congregation within which they disappear. After spending Christmas Eve struggling to help make our worship services meaningful for others, I realized that the night was almost over and I hadn't attended worship myself. Let me tell you this isn't abnormal, but this Christmas was one where I really felt the need to experience the miracle. So, after an exhausting day I headed out at 11pm with a friend to experience 'Nine Lessons and Carols' at an Episcopal church in Scottsdale. We arrived just as the service was kicking off and I was able to lose myself in anonymous worship.

I belong to the United Methodist Church, and in fact as many of you know I am following a call to ordained ministry within the same denomination. I did, however, spend many years attending the Catholic mass and High Church Episcopal worship as a young man. I love modern worship; I love the freedom to let loose and to experiment with new (or extremely old) ways of praising God. I love loud guitars and pounding drums that shake the walls, I love the intimacy of acoustic guitar and hand drums and sharing the mystery of God's love with a tiny group of worshipers. There are times, however, when I want to be overwhelmed by Church. I don't know if it's a product of my early exposure to the liturgy or if it's simply something that renews me, but sometimes I just want to be chewed up and spit out by the machinery of tradition. There is something...mystical...that comes across when I bow before the cross or watch the altar party silently preparing the feast seemingly without regard to the masses in the pews. I love it...sometimes. I think that is the most beautiful thing about our Church, there never needs to be something missing because somewhere close by that something is an 'old standby' that people are clamoring to rid themselves of.

So, why am I sharing this? I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone that put service to the Church ahead of their own wants and desires this Christmas. I really appreciate it! I also want to encourage all of you in your ministries, whatever they may be. It's also a way for me to encourage us as a Church; we sometimes fret over our fractiousness but I think we need to spend more time celebrating the diversity within the faith. I know that this Christmas has helped me realize that I spend too much time trying to think about what we can change about our worship at Trinity: Rays of Hope instead of really exploring the depths of what we bring to the table that is unique; we all have distinct gifts from God (both as congregations and as individuals) and we need to spend time exploring what our strengths are and what we can bring to the wider community that no one else can. It's hard to remember sometimes, but there is someone out there looking for a place to worship and we fit the bill perfectly! Praise be to God and Merry Christmas!

Design by Wordpress Theme | Bloggerized by Free Blogger Templates | free samples without surveys