As part of our Lenten program, I have the good fortune to host a Bible study series using the Morehouse “Embracing series”. This program features renowned Scripture scholar and preacher, Walter Bruggemann and focuses on the prophets and contemporary culture.
In the first segment, Bruggemann states that for the prophets, worship is a life or death matter. He observes that through the centuries, we have “narcoticized” our liturgies removing any sense of provocation.
“Life or death matter.” What would happen in our congregations if we actually treated our worship in that way. Not in the sense that every rubric must be followed precisely (although that’s not a bad idea) but that we begin to worship like there is something genuinely at stake. The way most Chrsitan churches worship today, observers may experience our worship and quickly conclude, “There’s nothing important going on here. We’ll just go through the motions one more time.”
To worship in this manner requires us to realize that we are as much enslaved to the culture in which we live as the Israelites were enslave to Pharaoh. What is at stake in our worship is the liberation of a people. God calls us to a continuing critique of our lives, the culture in which we live them, and our response to the transformative love of Christ.
“What difference does it make?” Is our worship like being on narcotics or, as Annie Dillard says, a true understanding of Christian worship would urge us to wear crash helmets!