I found myself lamenting earlier this week about how I still wasn’t getting it (see post here) regarding my present course of study and I finally figured out why. (And by not getting it, I mean not being able to explain it in a way that other people feel what I feel) I’m trying to answer a heart question, with my brain. I have many friends who do not follow a liturgical calender in their churches and do not know what Lent is or Advent or about any of the high festivals. In failing to answer their questions, I feel as if I’d been kicked in my proverbial teacher’s pride. If I can’t teach it, I don’t understand it.
I can’t give away what I don’t have. If’ my heart isn’t in worship, than I’m only going to be able to answer questions of the heart with my brain. What I have discovered, at least for myself, is that I’m taking church – and worship – for granted. I’m not paying as close attention to the details as I did when I was younger. I get into these moods of “yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that before. Tell me something new.” with church much like I can with that family member who has told the same joke for 20 years.
We can do that with everything in our lives. Take driving to work. We know the way, and at some point in the journey, we go on autopilot and don’t pay as close attention to the road as we should. We miss the scenery. We miss the sunsets and the birds, and the landscape. We think we’ve seen it all before and we focus instead on other things.
When I first joined the church back in 1993, everything was new and inspiring. “Why” was my favorite question. That is why I think my notebook is so sterile right now. When I first started studying the Bible, I didn’t just list facts in my brain, I applied them to my life. I wanted to know how this or that piece of the story can fill me and change me. What about this or that chapter brings me closer to Christ. Read the Bible a few times, and I find myself skimming over passages that I think “I know already” and I miss seeing it with fresh eyes. It’s the same with liturgy.
I can mentally skip through a worship service, take the seasons for granted and feel empty at the end of the day. Filling my notebook with facts in order to better answer people’s questions isn’t going to serve anyone and it definately isn’t going to bring me closer to Christ. I need to be an active participant in worship, laying down all preconcieved notions and ideas and be intentional in my focus and my attention. Only than can I truly find rest in the landscape.
That is, for me, what has been so great about this journey so far. In asking what and why again, in opening my eyes to the landscape around me, I’m become fully present in worship. I’m once again inwardly digesting truth and finding peace.
Question: What landscape in your church are you taking for granted? Are you on auto-pilot when it comes to worship? What steps do you take to refocus your attention?
This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. All rights reserved.