Friday, January 20, 2012

Out of Your Comfort Zone!


John 4:24
"God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth."

For years, I attend the Episcopal Church. As in Catholic and Anglican worship, Episcopal services are liturgical and traditional. Every type of service or sacrament is dictated by The Book of Common Prayer. Deviation from these formal rites is a rarity.

There is something marvelously reassuring in knowing what to expect when going to church. I can walk into any Episcopal church anywhere in the country and follow right along. Assured no punches will be pulled. No detours taken.

The rich, reverent language of The Book of Common Prayer unites us. Keeps us focused. Kneeling. Standing. Praying.

Everyone is literally on the same page during worship.

All led as one to the pinnacle of the service: The Holy Eucharist. The Great Thanksgiving. Holy Communion.

We are in our comfort zone . . .

While there is solace in the sameness of each Sunday service, there is also the risk of complacency. The prayers are rote. The order of service is routine.

Chiseled in stone, it can grow as cold as one . . .

It is all too easy for the seasoned Episcopalian to sleepwalk through what should be a spirit-filled, glorious experience of corporate worship.

For the words, meant to bring honor and praise to God, to become meaningless, stale in their repetition.

Uninspiring. Lifeless.

A recitation, not revelation.

Liturgically locked, not free in spirit.

Or, in truth . . .
~
Do you attend a liturgical church? Are you going through the motions every Sunday, or are you worshiping God in all spirit and in truth?

Will you pray with me?
Let us remember, Father, that you are spirit and we should ever worship and praise You with hearts, minds, souls, and strength in that same spirit. Infuse the words we recite and the prayers we offer each week with new life, vigor and meaning. Let our worship of You be filled with awe, with joy, with thanksgiving. Amen.

Readings
Psalms 31 or 35
Genesis 11:27-12:8
Hebrews 7:1-17
John 4:16-26

18 comments:

  1. I worship God in all spirit and truth!

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  2. Hi, Joseph, and thanks for popping around today!
    If you worship God in all spirit and in truth, you are definitely on the right path!
    Blessings to you!

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  3. Of all the days, I look forward to Sundays, an official 'date' with the Lord.

    I truly put my mind and heart in it...every word, every song, every act in commemoration of God's great love along with other people. It's one celebration I wouldn't want to miss.

    I pray with you in thanksgiving and in joy. I pray that we may have the capacity to enjoy 'communion' ~ with God and His church and that we may be capable of surprises so that every Church day will be something new.

    Thank you Martha. May we choose the road to freedom from our own comfort zones...

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Melissa, and leaving your awesome comment.
      I love how you refer to Sundays as your official "date" with God - what a beautiful way to think about this! That sure puts the spirit back into the service, doesn't it?
      And, no, it's not easy to leave our comfort zones, but I did when I left the Episcopal Church and now participate in a contemporary worship service in the Methodist Church. Very different, but I love it!
      Blessings to you!

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  4. I know what you mean by getting too used to something, that you become so comfortable with it that is loses its charm. It becomes mundane and meaningless. Loved the way compared this to attending church.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for dropping by today, Rimly!
      I try, though I don't always succeed, to look at things each day with "fresh" eyes, if you know what I mean. I want to be surprised by something I could easily find ordinary, looking for God's miracles in the smallest of things.
      Thanks for the compliment, too!
      Blessings to you!

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  5. You really know how to put your message across Martha..Life holds so many simple blessings, each day bringing its own individual wonder.Before someone's tomorrow has been taken away, cherish those you love, appreciate them today.Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things

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    1. Hi, Alpana, thanks so much for stopping by!
      What a beautiful observation you have made here! As I replied to Rimly, I really do try to appreciate and savor the little things of each and every day because, precisely as you said, we may look back and see how big they truly were.
      Thank you, too, for the sweet compliment. :)
      Blessings to you!

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  6. I grew up in the Catholic Church, so I understand what you are talking about and agree, it is easy to let your mind wander and not focus on the reason for being there. I believe worship starts in the heart, and if the heart is focused, the mind will follow. :D

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    1. Hi, Cathy, thanks so much for dropping by here and leaving a wonderful comment.
      Oh, yes, worship DOES start with the heart - it must be focused on the Lord as you said. And, growing up in the Catholic church, you are well acquainted with the pitfalls that can happen in liturgical services.
      Blessings to you!

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  7. Being raised as a Catholic, I completely hear what you are saying. I remember being so bored in church every Sunday and thinking 'is this all there is?' I became a Christian in my early teens and enjoyed the sharing and love I felt at my church. The message was basically the same, but the atmosphere was warm, loving, and inviting. It's great when one can find a church they enjoy so much that they can't wait to go back again the following week :)

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  8. Hi, Mary, thanks so much for stopping by today!
    Reading about your experiences in the Catholic service reminds me why Episcopalians are so often referred to as the "frozen chosen". Unless, like Melissa, we infuse it with joy, it can become tedious and dull, something worship should never be!
    And, yes, I absolutely love the Methodist Church I attend and where Danny and I lead praise worship. Definitely, a breath of fresh air every week!
    Blessings to you!

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  9. A really interesting post. Currently I don't attend a church. All the churches I've ever attended have been non-denominational or evangelical free and have not used books like the book of Common Prayer. I have incorporated in the past the Book of Common Prayer (Shane Claiborne's version) in my spiritual disciplines and I've found much benefit in doing so.
    ~blessings

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  10. Hi, Jessica, thanks so much for dropping by today!
    I was aware through your posts that you are currently not attending any particular church. I understand completely. I am grateful to have a church which doesn't try to place God or me in a nice, neat box . . .
    Glad you found the Book of Common Prayer a useful, spiritual tool. It is stunningly written.
    Blessings always!

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  11. The thing I love about my church is..it is very large over 5000...they play contemporary Christian music..people are up on their feet...hands in the air and you can't help but feel you are there alone with God..it's an awesome experience...As always...XOXOXOXO

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  12. Thanks so much for stopping by, Bonnie!
    Wow! You DO attend a mega-church! I'll bet the feeling you get at that service is much like what we experienced at the Passion 2012 celebration a few weeks ago. Praising Him in a crowd teeming with enthusiastic worshipers is amazing!
    Blessings to you!

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  13. "Chiseled in stone, it can grow as cold as one . . ."

    that one stopped me in my tracks; I had to read it a couple of times! It is easy for me to sleep walk through life this serves as a good reminder that change or trying something different is good.

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  14. Hi, Amy, thanks for stopping by!
    No, none of us should be content to sleepwalk through life. We should always be present in the moment and open to change when it comes. Easier said than done! :)
    Blessings to you!

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