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On Complaints (Worship!)

7July2011

I did a Google Image search for “worship” this morning, to try and find a clever image to use with this blog post.  Almost all of the worship images were of people with their arms raised up.  In the first five pages there were:

No bread and wine or images of Holy Communion

No baptismal fonts or images of Baptism

In the first 90 images shown, there were 3 discernible crosses.

The focus was on… us.  People.  Human beings.

Most of the complaints I hear (granted – I never hear as many as there actually are, since we have a tendency to talk ABOUT someone or something rather than talk TO someone) are about worship.  Not about how the worship may be perceived by a guest, but how the worship affects the one doing the complaining.

“It’s too long”  The “it” usually refers to the worship service as a whole, but then leads into a particular part of the worship; the Nicene Creed is longer than the Apostles’ Creed.  The hymns are too long.  Why is there so much singing?  The Communion service with that extra long prayer takes up a lot of time.

“I don’t like the hymns” -or- “I don’t know the hymns”  My response is first to point out that the purpose of hymn singing is to declare the Word of the Lord and/or offer God thanks and praise.  My second response is to ask the person to join the Worship and Music Team to help pick hymns.  That offer has never been accepted.

“I don’t like the bread/wine”  There are more complaints which have been offered across congregations, but this is the last I will note because it fits so well with the overall problem.  Your personal taste (wafers or homemade bread or store-bought bread or wine flavors) is, when push comes to shove, unimportant.  Did Jesus Christ come to you in the Sacrament of the Altar – was He truly present?  (YES!)  Then that is what matters.

The Google Image search results and the complaints reveal something startling about how we (including pastors!) approach worship – we make it about us.  Whether I come away from worship happy or sad or apathetic or even angry does not determine whether the worship service was “good”.

Worship was good because we heard God’s Word.  We were forgiven.  He came to us in body and blood, bread and wine.  Your emotional response to worship doesn’t matter.  The fact that you were forgiven, that God came to you, does.

Keith – who writes for himself as much as he writes for you

 

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