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Going through the Motions


So I’ve been on a kick about “going through the motions” lately.  I’ve touched on it on numerous Tuesdays here at CCD and I have at least one more in me today so bear with me.

Have you ever been driving your car to somewhere that you don’t always go and instead of going to that place your brain goes into auto-pilot and you find yourself turning to go to a place that you go more frequently?  You might wonder how you got there because that’s not where you set out to go!  Do you say to yourself, “Darn it, I didn’t want to go to the school, I was headed to the Rec Center. . .” Our brains are hardwired and will take over and just do what they need to do keep us breathing, pumping blood, living, without us even thinking about it. Pretty amazing really.  You remember from Middle School Biology that that is called the autonomic nervous system.  No gray matter needed, basic core functioning from the base of the brain- happens all the time, every day, every hour, every second.

Just the tiniest bit of intentional thought can change our awareness of where we are going, how to get there and to really see and experience more fully what is going on around us.  We can take ourselves off of auto-pilot and engage in our surroundings with very little effort.  So what if we did just that in worship?  Rather than simply going through the motions, what if we were intentional about seeing/hearing/experiencing all that there is to see/hear/experience in worship?  I think it would make a huge difference in our spiritual lives. (For instance lately the words of the Sanctus keep grabbing me, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” and yet I’ve heard/sung/uttered them a million times. Simple engagement!)

So here’s what Amos says about going through the motions from The Message: (Chapter 5)

I can’t stand your religious meetings. 
   I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects, 
   your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes, 
   your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. 
   When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want? 
   I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it. 
   That’s what I want. That’s all I want.

Justice begins with right worship, praise to God, singing to God, loving God.  But if we are simply going through the motions of worship then how will we do anything more than be on spiritual auto-pilot?  We are highly intentional about lots of things. . . why not worship of the living God?  And we notice lots of things that don’t matter. . . like where the flags are, why the routine got changed, and other annoying things that are adiaphora.  But what if we really sang to God with all of our hearts?  Would that truly change us?  What if we focused on what really matters— our Lord Jesus Christ?  Might we fall in love with him if we just paid attention to him?  I think we just might, in fact I’m betting on it!  So sing your song to the Almighty!  Sing to your Savior loud and strong!  Sing it in the shower, in the pew, in the social hall. . . just sing it and stop going through the motions.  

And remember. . . You are loved!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. 18October2011 07:38

    Amen! So true! I actually was told by one of our members that he couldn’t understand why the eucharistic prayer is so long — he thinks it is boring! Although I appreciated his honesty (I think) it broke my heart. I looked at him and said, next time, listen to each word!

    It’s not just the “doing” that can be “going through the motions”. It can also impact our “being” — We show up…. but only in body. Even if we are standing up, sitting down, kneeling, walking toward the Table, we are meandering all over time and space thinking about where we will be later that day or where we were last night or where we wish we could be.

    We think we are there (in church) but we are really elsewhere. We think about time passing instead of time stopping and the gates of heaven opening up to lavish us with God’s gifts.

    Hmmmm…. perhaps it is up to us to talk more about being mindful. Perhaps we can encourage our people to practice it in small ways (being mindful) so that when Christ the King Sunday arrives we “bow down” in awe, gratitude and praise!

  2. 20October2011 08:24

    Well said Pamela! Then this mindfulness could extend to each and every waking minute of life. . . mindful of God’s presence at any moment. . . mindful of his love and mercy on the journey. Thanks be to God!

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