Our Lenten worship theme this year is Lent 101.
What were you thinking, John?
Assigning extra reading?
A syllabus? Seriously?
Our Lenten worship theme is admittedly a bit tongue in cheek,
but we are absolutely serious as well.
More serious than tongue in cheek, to be honest.
And so we extend the affirmation that we all still have much to learn,
and the aphorism that
“you get out as much as you put in.”
We don’t presume to know what all who puts into worship.
For some, the “extras” may be nothing you want to invest time and energy into—
nothing you need to invest any time and energy in.
Others of you, may find some or even all of these opportunities to be helpful.
They were not “assigned” without much thought.
Some of you, will perhaps be interested in the assignments,
but writing doesn’t constitute your preferred means of expression.
Please see one of the ministers about what might suit you better
as a means of communication.
Art might afford some a better way of responding to the assignments:
painting or photography, a poem, a selection of music—even a conversation.
Having designated people to “turn your response into” is, in this case,
less about accountability (and has nothing to do with any kind of grading!)
and is all about the encouragement—
the mutual encouragement.
One of the gifts of worship, we remind each other,
is that it meets us (each one of us) right were we are
(kind of like God that way).
And it may well be that all some of us need is a break from our week,
room—a time and a place to breathe.
Some look for the experience of community and fellowship,
others, for consistent reminders of the stories of God—
as alternative to too much taken for granted,
as inspiration within the way things are,
as counterweight to the weight of the world,
as subversive manifesto of the inbreaking of God.
Some need to be comforted.
Some need to be encouraged.
Some need to be confronted and challenged.
Some need to mourn.
Some need to marvel.
Some need to reflect.
Some need to heal.
Some need to celebrate and give thanks.
Some need to remember their past
and the importance of tradition.
Some need hope for their future
and the promise of an ever-new possibility.
Worship meets us where we are.
But worship’s intent is never to leave us where we are.
Ultimately, worship, appropriately including all of the above—
graciously offering all of the above,
truthfully aims beyond all of the above.
Because ultimately, worship is a being prepared for
and a being sustained in
a transformative way of life—
a way of life that is work—
that takes discipline—
that’s not about just showing up,
but about putting your all into something worth your all.
It’s a living that acknowledges receiving
and subsequently gives—
a living that receives in order to give—
in order to serve others.
Ultimately, you see, worship is not for us at all.
Odd thing to write … odd to think about.
Because it is for us in ways more important
than just about anything else can be,
but ultimately, it’s not for us.
Ultimately worship is for God
and how we can (and will or won’t) be more like God
in utter commitment to the redeeming of all creation.
Now that’s going to take a lot!
That won’t just happen.
That’s not the way things are.
Maybe these extra assignments can help.
That’s our hope.
Because we all learn from and with each other.
So we invite you this Lent, if you think these might help you,
to take them seriously.
Have at them—
with all the integrity you’ve got.
It’s not about you.
But there’s absolutely nothing else
that’s more about you.