Next month, we will launch our newest worshiping community in the FUMCC family. 1st on Chatham will gather at 9:45 a.m. weekly in the Cary Theater for worship that is “traditional, yet casual.” In some ways, it will be recognizable to anyone attending services in the sanctuary – creeds, communion, hymns, the same sermon series. In other ways, it will be recognizable to those who attend Celebration – casual attire, more relaxed setting, use of multimedia from time to time, acoustic music. Our Pastor of Outreach, Colin Snider, will be the primary pastor at 1st on Chatham. The goal and desire is to make more room for more people to come to relationship with Jesus Christ through the ministry of FUMCC.
Thinking about that service and the ways in which it will be similar to, yet distinct from, the services that we already offer, I have found myself thinking about what is important in worship. It seems to me that we often get ourselves tangled up in the briars of style and taste. Worship should be formal; no, maybe not, perhaps more relaxed and less “off putting.” Music should be contemporary, upbeat, have some energy to it; or, perhaps it should be traditional hymns that are familiar and well-known. Pastors should wear liturgical garb; or jeans.
All of those distinctions are distinctions of preference. Each service is different from every other to some degree (even, believe it or not, the three in the sanctuary have subtle distinctions). That is as it should be in a church our size since that allows for people to find the expression of worship that best suits their journey with Christ.
A few weeks ago, we said of prayer that it’s not so much the “how” or “when” or “where” of prayer as it is the “that” of prayer. Concerning worship I would contend that it is not the “how” so much as it is the “to whom” – as in “to whom is worship offered.”
In the gospel of John, we read of Jesus having a conversation with a woman of Samaria (John 4:19-26). She is concerned with the “where” and “how” of worship. Jesus responds by telling her that a new day has come when what will matter is that worship is done “in spirit and truth,” addressed to the one, true God. What matters is “to whom.”
This Sunday, as we continue to travel “By Another Way,” we will consider “The Way of Worship.” I hope to see you in worship. And I invite you to be in prayer for all of our worship communities, especially in these days for the new one that is forming as 1st on Chatham, that we all keep our eyes on the “to whom.”
Grace and peace.