In the past few weeks I've attended a number of different worship services with friends, all different Christian denominations.
Lately, I've been trying hard to more clearly define why I am able to worship more completely in certain situations than in others.
My logical side takes issue with the known fact that I clearly feel more uplifted in a pleasing setting. After all, if I lived in a country where I was forced to worship in the dark in a dirt basement, for example, I'm sure that the fellowship would be sweet and our worship would be sincere. Probably more sincere than any I experience now. But the truth is, for me, that if I have choices, I feel much more worshipful in buildings that are not plain cement blocks. I like colored windows (no known preference for Biblical scenes vs. geometric patterns, but I do like symbols). I like banners, preferably changed with the seasons/church calendar. I like beautiful woodwork and fancy light fixtures. These things (colors, textures, designs) all flow together to create a sense of peace and well-being within me.
I like a variety of audio inputs. Today, I went to a church to hear a handbell choir that some friends belong to. I hadn't been to that church for a number of years and had forgotten that they have a pipe organ. What luscious, rich sound! The Prelude was an organ/piano duet. There was also a Power Point album of a youth retreat with modern music and lots of shots of happy kids. In some of the other churches recently attended, there were several scripture readers, a dramatic reading, and special music. I love to sing- I love almost all types of Christian music, with the exception of the most recent iteration (since about 1990?) with only a few words per song repeated over and over, and no tune to speak of.
I've also reached a point where I'm not willing to listen to sermons of an hour or more in length. Blame it on being a speech major (learning about public speaking... more is not usually more), blame it on grad school(too many long lectures), blame it on old age ADD, blame it on sheer cantankerousness. Right or wrong, it's where I am right now.
Now, all of you who are ready to leap on me with the reminder that worship is not about how I feel, it's about focusing on God, I'm ready to agree wholeheartedly. And yet... I find it difficult to worship where the services only touch a couple of my senses.
I guess I would ask those of you who may feel critical toward this post to ask yourself the question, "If I were asked to worship week after week in a setting I found unpleasant, with music I didn't care for, would I feel enthusiastic about worship?"
This may be "off the wall," but it's honest.