Occasionally someone will share with me, often on their way out of the sanctuary, something they came up with during worship. Now I’m not talking about the sometimes lengthy responsive notes passed back and forth between people, or the elaborate games played to pass the time. Not talking about the caricature of me (or anyone else for that matter) in the pulpit. I’m not talking about the amended grocery or to-do lists for the upcoming week. Those I all find in the pews, the pew racks, and on the floor during the week! Nor am I talking about observations about what went wrong or what should have been done differently.
No, I’m talking about those who come out with evidence of something that was so significant in the worship, it had to be written down—had to be underlined—I’ve even seen multiple exclamation marks!!!—something triggering a deep need to facilitate remembrance. Sometimes it’s a prayer—a poem—written in response to something in the service. Sometimes it’s sermon notes—something that was said, pointed out or pointed to. A couple of times, people have shared an additional verse they wrote to a hymn we sang.
I’m not talking about diversions from worship, in other words. Nor am I talking about claiming worship as a starting point from which to ruminate (though there’s certainly nothing wrong with that!). I’m certainly not talking about compliments: “I liked the sermon”—“liked that prayer”—“that meditation”—“that music.”
No, I’m talking about something in the experience of worship that was … captivating—something that captured the individual present in hope of worship and wouldn’t let them go—something (to quote Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel) that “overwhelmed the heart and usurped the mind.”
Occasionally, someone will share with me, often on their way out of the sanctuary, the gift of worship.