Worship is to enable us to reach up to grasp the hand of heaven, to glimpse, albeit fleetingly, the life of heaven, to plug in, for a moment, to the worship of the angels and the praises of the saints. (Perham 2000: 4.)As someone who gets more than a tad riled up by imperfect music, an uninspired sermon, the difficulty of engaging with the church community when caring for children's needs, liturgical change and so on, I need to remember this. Worship is more than the total of all the things you struggle with in a service. It's those true glimpses of God that are there - in the place, in the singing, in the intercessions; it's that engagement with the Holy Spirit, hugely powerful one week, quietly experienced the next. As Perham continues:
"Of course it will rarely be a vision of God in all his beauty, and nearly always grasping the heel is the nearest we shall get. But we must not settle for less than a yearning to be touched by the glory, and to sense the angels and the saints." (Perham 2000: 5.)
He also makes an illuminating point that clergy (and others) who are aware of the rules by which a service is put together, are much more likely than 'ordinary' members of the congregation to be annoyed by aspects that they do not like. Studying theology over the past two years has made the content, structure and aim of church services much more transparent to me. I'm not yet at the stage where I could either a) identify an ideal service I should like to worship at or b) identify an ideal service I should like to lead as a minister. But I do have preferences fed by study and experience that shift my focus from what is happening to what I would like to be happening. Learning that this has possibly caused me to be more picky and detract from my worship (and possibly my relationship with the Spirit) is a good thought for the week.
Perham, Michael. (2000) New Handbook of Pastoral Liturgy. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. (NB - the author is an Anglican Bishop in the UK and the liturgy he refers to is that of the Church of England.)