Worship, community, and a few related bits

Wiccans gather for a handfasting ceremony at A...

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A few years ago, I participated in a discussion about Wiccan devotions on an email list that focused on British Traditional Wicca.  One of the elders (I forget which tradition) commented that just about any act can become an act of devotion simply by keeping in mind the Wiccan Mysteries.  It’s something that’s stuck with me, and I tend to see things the same way, understanding that an act of devotion is about perception as much as it’s about carrying out any particular activity or procedure.  And in many ways, I tend to see worship (which I’m not sure I see as entirely distinct from devotion anyway) in much the same way.  After all, I’m constantly reminded of my paragraph from The Charge of the Goddess:

Let My worship be within the heart that rejoices,
for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.
Therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion,
honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.

So to me, anything which brings to mind beauty, compassion, reverence, or any of the other virtues mentioned is an act of worship.  Any situation that brings about rejoicing and good cheer is an act of worship in my mind.  And if I meet another person and as a result we share these virtues and that rejoicing with each other, that is a moment where we have joined together in worship.

I’ve been thinking of this due to a conversation a couple of us had over on Matt’s post about “going to church.”  As part of the discussion, I suggested that if a small group of believers ran into each other at the grocery story, that might be considered “church happening.”  Scott disagreed:

I get
what Jared is saying, and I appreciate the intent, but this is not
church. Three people randomly meeting at a grocery store are not
gathered to communal bear witness to the risen Jesus through worship
and service.

Personally, I offered my own disagreement with Scott:

Why
not? Can’t service and worship happen anywhere and spontaneously? Isn’t
the act of just meeting and showing each other Christian love an act of
worship? After all, didn’t Christ himself say that people would know
his followers by how they loved one another? And once those people meet
so “randomly,” what opportunities for service might they find in that
“random” moment? Perhaps they can help the elderly woman who’s trying
to make her way through the crowded produce aisle. Perhaps they can
help the overly-tired mother with three very active children do her
shopping.

And therein lies my point. I think it’s important to see ANY
gathering of believers — no matter how random or unplanned — as
church simply because ANY such situation can lead to communal service
and worship. And I’ll be so bold as to suggest that not recognizing
each such moment as such simply blinds one to the opportunities such a
moment might actually offer.

Maybe my point is moot.  Maybe Christian theology simply doesn’t support my basic assumptions.  (Christians will have to decide (a) if that’s the case and (b) whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing if it’s not.)  However, from my perspective, it only makes sense.  Where more than one person meet, see the sacredness in each other and in the sharing of lives, loves, joys, and sorrows, worship can and will take place.

And I’d like to think that, as I mentioned, such a mentality does offer a chance for service.  Going through each moment of life with this attitude tends to make one more aware of opportunities to help others and touch lives.  Certainly, they might be small ways to do so.  But who says you have to do something big for it to count?

As I mentioned in the discussion in Matt’s blog, anything less than this mentality suggests to me a compartmentalization of sacred experience and sacred living.  Community — even religious community — doesn’t happen at special events.  It’s heartbeat lives in every moment lived, at least to those of us who take the time to listen for it.

To do otherwise would strike me as, well, irreligious.

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5 thoughts on “Worship, community, and a few related bits”

  1. Ahem. “Where two or three are gathered together, there am I in the midst of them”….

    As the lovely Sarah over at Gospel Pagan is fond of saying, “pray without ceasing”.

    Also, worship is union with the Divine Beloved, or celebrating the thing we find to be of greatest worth, not “bearing witness to the risen Christ” (although I am pleased to see that Scott’s concept of worship includes service). I guess that’s why I would never, ever be a Christian.

    To me, the aim of religion is not to convince others of your particular truth, but to be loving. People should be loving for its own sake, not in order to “bear witness”.

    Anyway, that’s given me an idea for a blogpost – thanks!

  2. That’s generally bee my understanding too, Daniel. Though talking the subject through with Matt and Scott has certainly been interesting.

    Thanks for commenting.

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