This morning (I am writing this Thursday afternoon) I had the opportunity to lead worship for our school in our monthly Eucharist chapel. I have noticed that as the year progresses and the students come to know what to expect in the service, they are more attentive to the movements and prayers of our liturgy. Most of them recite the responses without help from the Book of Common Prayer, they all know what to do as they approach the altar rail, and they talk less amongst themselves throughout the service. I believe this is a real example of what I often try to describe to those who are new to the way we worship together.
There is a holy rhythm to our worship. It flows in an intentional order and invites us ever more deeply into the presence of God. Every step of the service leads us to the moment when we feast together on the grace of God given to us in communion. We then give thanks for that feast and go back out into the world nourished. The more we do this together, the more intuitive it becomes. I have shared with some that almost every time I preside I hear something new in the Eucharistic prayer, a prayer I have said more than a thousand times. Further, the patterns of what we say and do in church find their way into the way I talk or walk with others during the week. The simple act of spending an hour every week praying, hearing the Good News, and being fed changes everything else that happens in that week. Our time together gives me comfort when something hard happens. It gives me a grateful heart when something amazing happens. I believe our shared life of faith makes me more creative and hopeful all the while sustaining me as I persevere through long days.
I believe worship changes us because it turns us toward God in a world that tries to turn us towards ourselves. All of these blessings that come from the simple act of worship are themselves a matter of allowing God to move in our lives, and I pray that you come and are nourished in the midst of worshiping our loving living God.