Reflections

A Magazine of Theological and Ethical Inquiry from Yale Divinity School

Thrilling, Urgent, Riveting: A WORSHIP CREDO

Author: 
Nancy S. Taylor ’81 M.Div.

I believe that every Sunday – Sunday after Sunday after Sunday – it is the responsibility of worship leaders to bring people to faith, anticipating either that they lost their faith sometime during the previous week … or never had it at all.

I believe that the majority of those who visit our sanctuary for worship know only the barest minimum about the Christian faith – its traditions, texts, histories, current manifestations. We are here to invite them to overcome their fear of entertaining the claim of God on their lives.

I believe worship is not a benign activity but is intended to radicalize us and form us into followers of Jesus. It will promote the Christian life as urgent, charged, and consequential.

I believe worship is a rehearsal for heaven – that we are practicing the singing, eating, fellowship, joy, and praying that we will be doing in eternity. And so, our liturgical efforts had better be good.

I believe worship should be thrillingly different than our oft-times prosaic lives – that the opening of worship, including Words of Welcome, signal that we have crossed over into time that is deep, beautiful, dangerous, and sacred.

I believe Jesus was exciting and that to follow him – to be near him, to hear him, watch him, experience him – was to feel the excitement of living in the presence of God. And it can still be.

I believe that worship should engage our whole beings – body, soul, and intellect – and that sights, colors, sounds, tastes, smells, and movement help us embody the experience of praising God.

I believe the spoken word (calls, prayers, scripture, sermon) should be as wonderfully wrought as the musical selections – thus planned, practiced, and rehearsed with care.

I believe in liturgical choreography that is meaningful, elegant, and liminal.

I believe scripture readers can deepen their own faith – even discover it – in the act of preparing to present biblical passages on Sunday morning.

I believe once upon a time when our Bible stories circulated in oral tradition they were so pungent, so alive and compelling that to tell them was to bring people to faith. Therefore, the presentation of scripture texts should be a highlight of any service of worship that carries us into the presence of God.

I believe that if J.K. Rowling, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Walter Brueggemann have to submit their written works to editors, then preachers should too.

I believe it is given to us to handle the mysteries of life and death, time and eternity, spirit and flesh, good and evil. Therefore, a sanctuary filled with worshippers should be profoundly engaging and riveting.

Issue Title: 
New Voyages: Church Today and Tomorrow
Issue Year: 
2015