I remember as a child, I would put up a fight in order not to go to church - or to swim lessons, or piano lessons or almost anything that would cause me to leave my preferred state of adolescent atrophy. I would try to hide my Brussels Sprouts in order to avoid having to eat them, along with a number of other foods that I have since come to savor greatly. My long suffering mother had to endure all the whining and delay tactics that I used to avoid the things I did not like, nor want to do. Many times I have found excuses to avoid doing exercises, yet when I do go out for a walk, or take time to stretch and exercise, I always feel better. I now love to swim, I grieve that I did not continue with my piano lessons, and I am deeply thankful for my mother’s persistent efforts to introduce me to new foods.
Exhortations to pray, to be still with God and to have time to read the Bible sometimes has had the same effect. Initially there is a reticence and an avoidance, something in us tells me it will be tedious. But we find that once we take the time to be still, to pray and to read the scripture, we are always touched by a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation of life. When we take time to finish all our requests to God and then simply listen, watch, and breath with God, we are able to let go of much of the stress that haunts us and the wounds and emotions that keep us on edge. After such time we find that we are open to new ways of thinking and a greater compassion for those with differing experiences and ideas.
Worship is not simply a public activity we participate in on Sunday mornings. Worship is a gateway for our healing and for our ability to be more creative in our lives. The daily engagement in worship opens us to face things and activities that are often fearful to us. For most of my life I have always had a deep fear of singing out loud. It is in the daily praise and adoration of God that I am able to let go and sing as I walk down the street and even down the aisle in church. It is from moments of worship that when strangers come my way I am not timid and shy but, rather, open and expectant to see what the glory of God is bringing into my life by their presence.
I have found through the act of worshipping God the treasures of being able to move on, grow up and discover how brilliant these limited days are in our life. I look forward to church and the gathering together of my family of faith, and know the immense gift and importance it is for me. The more fully we worship God and the more often we worship God, the freer we are to sing out, the bolder we are to put a swing in our dance, to be still and listen, to let go and forgive and to dive fully into to actions of love. Worship is not just a weekly event, it is daily; encompassing all the movements of our body, the depths of our emotions, the contours of our thoughts and the full commitment of our habits.