I Wander and I Wonder

There are two things I believe a worship experience, in the Christian faith, should enable: A closer relationship with and understanding of God, and self-reflection that leads to greater desire for a closer relationship with and understanding of God. That’s an ideal scenario.

In “the real world,” worship, in the Christian faith, doesn’t play out that way. There are a myriad types of elements that may interfere with the relationship. The elements may range from emotions — one’s state of mind upon entering the house of worship — to stylistic — what clothes to wear, what version of the Bible is read, or, Lord have mercy, the kind of music played.

mem-shadowThere’s also the technical equation in this high-tech, multimedia, short-attention-span, world of worship: stuttering streaming, bland graphics, misspelled words, out-of-sync sync lyrics transitions. No matter how proficient or how well all the rest of the Service is, an error in this area has the potential of taking one’s head out of the game; and accordingly, disrupt the relationship and understanding. The mind starts to wander. And wonder. “What is the point of all this?”

There’s another kind of wondering about worship that occurs. Before coming to the house of worship. It may even be the same question: “What is the point of all this?” The question is salient whether curious about the Christian church afresh or a participant in the church for a long time.

The pages herewith take into account these questions and more. The essays raise rhetorical questions and specifics. They reflect on Scripture passages, sermons, music, ideas, ideals, headlines, pop culture references, personal experiences…all sorts of stimuli that strike me ponderous or humorous that somehow take root in the life of God.

Several of the essays have been previously published as devotions in the front page of the worship program at my home church, Elk Grove Baptist Church, a multi-ethnic congregation┬ánear O’Hare Airport outside Chicago. Many were designed to help our congregation prepare for the Sunday sermon. At the time I was “worship coordinator,” charged with arranging the Services of Worship and assisting the interim pastor, then the Lead Pastor, in communicating with the congregation. They were short notations, based upon the preacher’s theme, my own devotions, and how they may be intertwined. Always there was a Scriptural base for the commentary, not just my own ramblings.

I called the essays “Worship Wonderings” for fun, because I like alliteration, and because I was a fan of a bit that Arsenio Hall used on his original┬átalk show: “Sometimes there are things that make you go: ‘Hmmmmm?’ “ That often happens in the church. So, that’s what I composed. The stories are a cross between my background as a journalist writing editorials and a theater director writing director’s notes for the Stagebill programs. I’ve always felt a little background gives a little extra understanding.

So, that’s what these Wonderings are. Some background and some perspective. Shakespeare said “brevity is the soul of wit.” I have tried to be witty in many…that is, brief. I have not always succeeded. However, pray tell you endeavor to read on, I trust you will find these Wonderings close to my original premise: They help bring you into a closer relationship with and understanding of God; and self-reflection that leads to greater desire for a closer relationship with and understanding of Him.

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