Notice: I've taken a part-time job, and it's definitely affecting my blogging time. I'll continue to add content here as often as possible.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Multisensory Worship

stained glass window

In the past few weeks I've attended a number of different worship services with friends, all different Christian denominations.

Lately, I've been trying hard to more clearly define why I am able to worship more completely in certain situations than in others.

My logical side takes issue with the known fact that I clearly feel more uplifted in a pleasing setting. After all, if I lived in a country where I was forced to worship in the dark in a dirt basement, for example, I'm sure that the fellowship would be sweet and our worship would be sincere. Probably more sincere than any I experience now. But the truth is, for me, that if I have choices, I feel much more worshipful in buildings that are not plain cement blocks. I like colored windows (no known preference for Biblical scenes vs. geometric patterns, but I do like symbols). I like banners, preferably changed with the seasons/church calendar. I like beautiful woodwork and fancy light fixtures. These things (colors, textures, designs) all flow together to create a sense of peace and well-being within me.

I like a variety of audio inputs. Today, I went to a church to hear a handbell choir that some friends belong to. I hadn't been to that church for a number of years and had forgotten that they have a pipe organ. What luscious, rich sound! The Prelude was an organ/piano duet. There was also a Power Point album of a youth retreat with modern music and lots of shots of happy kids. In some of the other churches recently attended, there were several scripture readers, a dramatic reading, and special music. I love to sing- I love almost all types of Christian music, with the exception of the most recent iteration (since about 1990?) with only a few words per song repeated over and over, and no tune to speak of.

I've also reached a point where I'm not willing to listen to sermons of an hour or more in length. Blame it on being a speech major (learning about public speaking... more is not usually more), blame it on grad school(too many long lectures), blame it on old age ADD, blame it on sheer cantankerousness. Right or wrong, it's where I am right now.

Now, all of you who are ready to leap on me with the reminder that worship is not about how I feel, it's about focusing on God, I'm ready to agree wholeheartedly. And yet... I find it difficult to worship where the services only touch a couple of my senses.

I guess I would ask those of you who may feel critical toward this post to ask yourself the question, "If I were asked to worship week after week in a setting I found unpleasant, with music I didn't care for, would I feel enthusiastic about worship?"

This may be "off the wall," but it's honest.


vanilla said...

Can't find fault with this.

Tracy said...

When God keeps you in a place that doesn't hit your buttons for worship (and I've been there) He calls you to worship at other times. That thrill as you see a beautiful lorikeet flying overhead works for me. Or a news story about someone being selfless. No, it's not easy when the church service doesn't move you, but worship is something that is a lifestyle, and the Lord rewards us for sticking with it.

Petra said...

You're honest and you know the pitfalls, what to look out for. I think that's a healthy balance. It's when we take it to extremes that worries me.

Expression said...

I understand exactly where you're coming from here. We lie way out in the country now and attend a wonderful little country church.

But there are some things I miss after experiencing churches in Maine. I miss the lovely church bells that ring every Sunday morning. I miss the old wonderful buildings with the original stain glass windows.

We do have stain glass windows at our current church though and I love it. I must say one thing I do really miss though is fresh flowers.

At our church in Maine we always had a fresh flower arrangement for the alter each Sunday. Here it's always the same old artificial arrangement. I know, silly, right? It is a wordly thing but I do miss the flowers and bells!!

I also tend to get bored if the sermons go to long and I truly get aggravated if we have 2 or 3 weeks where the sermon is about the same thing.

I want to visit a Cowboy Church. Everyone around here says they really have a good time when hey go. I haven't visited one yet but it's on my 'Bucket List'!