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Beyond Worship

On the liturgical calendar, we're again in a season called "ordinary time." This does not mean "boring time"--the root of ordinary in this sense is "ordered." We read through scripture in order, we follow the order of worship, we build one thing on another in sequence. The complement to ordinary time is all the named seasons: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Holy Week, Eastertide (weeks after Easter, not just Easter Sunday). It's easy to think that ordinary time is the "leftover" time, but God is the God of all time; God blesses and redeems all time, and that includes ordinary time. Still, here at the end of January and the beginning of February, with Christmas behind us and Lent in front of us, there's a little break where we can think of other ordinary things.

The order of worship ends with a section called "Sending." We send each other into the world to love and serve the Lord. The Director for Worship, the middle section of the Book of Order, says that "In baptism, we offer our whole lives in service to God, and empowered by the Holy Spirit with gifts for ministry in Jesus' name" (W-5.0105). We offer our whole lives, not just the eleven o'clock hour on Sundays. We serve God in our whole lives, not just in the Worship Service on Sundays. As we live our "ordinary" lives, we love and serve the Lord, and THAT makes all time special. We work and rest and spend time with our friends and family, and all that time is holy unto the Lord. We can worship wherever we go. We can work wherever we go, serving both the Lord and other people. We can witness wherever we go: we can live so that, by our lives, others know what it means to be loved by God and to love as God loves. "For Christians, worship, work, and witness cannot be separated" (W-5.0105).

When we are intentional about how we live, we are disciplined. When we intentionally live in worship of, work for, and witness to Jesus Christ, then we are disciples. How can we do intentional things--how do we order our lives--to be better disciples?

  • Prayer is the main spiritual practice. We can set aside time dedicated to praying every day. There are many kinds of prayer, and all are valid. Our prayer can be focused meditation or open contemplative prayer. It can be prayer for asking or praising or confessing or thanking God for anything. Our prayer can be spoken or silent or enacted (like dance, or walking a labyrinth, or something like jogging). It can be scheduled in the interest of being more disciplined, but it can also be spontaneous. It can be with other people or by ourselves.

  • Studying scripture goes hand-in-hand with prayer. We can read scripture, read (quality sources) about scripture, pray about scripture, and be open to hearing what God has to say through scripture.

  • Service and action can be profound ways to worship God in the world. This complements contemplation and prayer.

  • The Directory for Worship also lists "fasting and feasting," and "stewardship and self offering" as recommended practices.

Paul says to be "transformed by the renewal of your mind" (Romans 12:2). I think the best way to order our lives is to change our perspective on life and work and worship. By approaching the whole of our lives as though it were all worship, we can order our lives for better discipleship.