Monday, May 16, 2005

Writing and worship

In one of the chapters of his excellent study, “Renew your worship,” Robert Webber talks about styles of worship. He describes an Episcopal service that is quite different from liturgical tradition, then describes a service of Eucharist (communion) in a Pentecostal church that also was a surprising departure from Pentecostal tradition. Then he says:
“Now we have to ask ourselves, What’s going on here? When did the Episcopal liturgy change and become so thoroughly participatory? How is it that a Pentecostal church follows the fourfold patter of the ancient church and uses some of the prayers from the Book of Common Prayer?

“I think that the best way to explain this phenomenon is as a convergence of worship, a blending of the traditional with the contemporary. For our purposes, it demonstrates that there is no such thing as one style.

“The content of worship, which is the story of God’s redeeming work in Jesus Christ, is absolutely nonnegotiable. The structure of worship — which proclaims and enacts the story and thus creates a meeting between God and God’s people in which a relationship is established, maintained and repaired — is rooted in Scripture and common experience. But the style of worship — traditional, contemporary, convergence, Black, Spanish or some other style — is totally dependent on the cultural heritage and preference of the worshiping community.”

Elsewhere he describes the four acts: entrance, Word, table, dismissal.

Here’s what Paul says in Rom. 12: 1, 2:
I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (NASB)

What does this mean for me as a writer? Certainly, in other places Paul says we are to do everything for the Lord (Col. 3:17). Living our lives for God, allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us, is an act of worship.

So whatever I write could be considered an act of worship. But what about the content? Does this preclude some types of content? If what I write is consistent with “the story of God’s redeeming work in Jesus Christ” then I would think that almost any kind of story could be acceptable. But I need to be careful that I don't try to put my own ideas of what is acceptable in place of what God desires for my writing.

I'm just beginning to digest what this could mean. I suspect God has a lot to teach me in this area.

1 comment:

Brad Boydston said...

Think of the liturgy -- that which we first do as a gathered body -- to be the pattern for the individual worship that we take out into the world where we live and work as individuals. In a sense it is seamless. In someway, your writing, as is all work, is an extension of the work of the church in worship.