Thursday, 6 March 2014
Thursday 6th: Worship
I was torn between this picture, and one I love from the Octagon Facebook page of one of our Sunday club being fascinated and delighted by one of the dogs who joined us for the pet service. Fear not - you might getting Lizzie and Dottie someday soon.
But this one won, clearly.
Creating worship is one of my very very favourite things to do. There's something incredibly special when it works well. That feeling at the end of a service or after a ritual when you know something has changed and everyone has 'reached' something is a real gift (I mean, yeah, obviously, it's not about the ego, but . . .)
I have a bit of a 'thing' about train-spotters. I like them. I love that single-mindedness and that passion. From the train the other day I saw a man pelting up the opposite platform at Ipswich station, which I thought was odd, given that there wasn't a train there, til I realised he was trying to get level with the front of the train I was on, to take a photo of it (no, I have no idea what was special about it, or whether he just hadn't seen it before). He didn't make it in time, and looked so upset and disappointed that I nearly got a bit weepy myself. Seriously.
That doesn't sound terribly like it has anything to do with worship, admittedly. But it reminded me an incident a few years ago when my then partner and I visited the National Rail Museum in York (that it is an amazing museum is proved to me by the fact that I adored every second and have hardly any interest in trains at all, other than as a normally-pleasant way of getting to places).
Out of nothing more than idle interest we went inside, I think, a Japanese bullet train. Just the pair of us. And it was pleasant enough and we walked up the carriage feeling mildly interested and mildly puzzled about what all the fuss was about.
But then a man got on as well. And the expression on his face was just one of complete awe. This was clearly a very, very special moment for him. Everything about the way he moved, the way he looked round, the way his face changed suggested worship. Without discussing it, the two of us just left.
When we talked about it afterwards we both agreed that the moment the man had come onto the train we both felt gauche and out of place. Like we were behaving disrespectfully in a temple. It would not have been right for us to stay there going "oh, right, train" when this other person was experiencing something so utterly special.
I wouldn't have been a bit surprised if we'd found out later, somehow, that the man on the train had knelt down after we left.
He was worshipping. I have no doubt of that.
I don't feel like that about trains. I like the bacon baguettes you can get on the Norwich-London ones, and I like the fact that you never know if you're going to strike up a cheering conversation, and I like the fact that you can see the English countryside so well from them, but that's as far as it goes.
But I do feel that way about . . .wait for it . . . God. (Caveats . . . )
And when I've attended really good effective worship, I've felt like that man looked. Like I was finally seeing and touching and feeling something I'd been waiting for for a long long time.
It doesn't, honestly, happen often. And when it does it doesn't always last that long.
Amongst other places, I've found it walking a labyrinth, and sitting in silence on a hillside in Derbyshire, and at a Taize worship session.
I've never found it whilst leading worship. Not once. And I think that's appropriate: leading worship isn't about feeling that yourself, it's about opening that possibility. And a few times I've had a feeling of "this is doing what I want it to do" wash over me (and that's how it's felt, like a washing-over), and once, only once, I felt an almost physical jolt when it felt like it was no longer me doing the talking, but something else far, far beyond me (not in a talking in tongues way, just in "something special is happening here, and I'm not doing this on my own" way).
I would love to think there were times when I've allowed other people to come close to that feeling though. Even if it were only once or twice: that we be a good gift to have given.
And is it only me who thinks the book on "Making Liturgy" looks like any number of aromatherapy/massage/home-decoration books?