The Case for Worship

I’ll confess that I’ve been doing a lot of handwringing lately. So many problems to solve, and I feel woefully underqualified to address them. The January 6th hearings…. inflation… gas prices… the ongoing war in Ukraine… climate change… lack of affordable housing… what can I do? What can any of us do? Our church has brilliant minds, we have doctors, lawyers, economists, and educators, many of you are well-qualified to address some of these problems in tangible ways.

But as a church, we have a different calling. Our job, as part of an ancient faith tradition, is to constantly remind ourselves and society of why these problems matter. Leading experts address the “how,” the solutions to the problems. Religion addresses the “why,” why attempt to solve the problems at all. We need to remind everyone that these problems matter because they’re affecting a sacred planet, a divinely created human race, a creation teeming with life, lives that matter, everything from the tiniest organism to the largest mammals. We can do this meaning-making through the ritual of worship.

Rev. Mary Luti is a retired seminary professor, an ordained UCC pastor, and a brilliant thinker. She recently wrote, “Liturgical scholar James White once called congregational worship ‘a stubborn communal leaning towards God.’ We just hang in, week after week. And this persistence — this devotion — is one of worship’s most important, if vastly underrated, contributions to justice-making.

“Our need to worship is recurring, just as the struggle against injustice is recurring. By devoting ourselves to worship time and again, we learn the persevering character of that struggle. We practice the doggedness that God eternally brings to the divine mission, so that whenever and wherever Love makes demands, the chances are better we’ll show up too, and do what justice requires.”

We need to show up week in and week out to worship to inoculate ourselves against apathy and despair. It can be tempting to give in to despair, accept our fate, that the problems of our nation and our world are beyond our control and all we can do is ride the wave.

God did not create us to be passive bystanders of our own destiny, but agents of change working alongside God to pull creation, (sometimes it feels more like dragging), that much closer the realm of God on Earth. This is the realm in which life is good, people are gentle, loving and empathetic, and we care for the world and all life that depends on it.

So, what can you do? Worship with us, week after week, to avoid the temptation of giving into apathy, and so you’ll be better prepared to add your voice to the moral chorus, the faithful ones making a case for why these problems must be solved.

Scripture:  “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers.” Acts 2:42

Prayer Focus:  For anyone who cares

Prayer: Almighty God, we confess that worship sometimes feels like a redundant waste of time. And all those bigger-than-us problems? We just want to bury our heads in the Florida sand. Remind us that our job is to keep everyone’s eyes on the ball, your realm here on earth, and going to worship each Sunday gives us the courage to look ahead, when we’d rather look away.