Worship habits which form us
At the May 6 Worship Resourcing Workshop, speaker Rachel Miller Jacobs described three types of worship habits which form us.
Worship practices for the individual level of habitus formation include 1) Physical: silence/stillness/contemplation–learning to listen for God’s voice, learning to wait for God’s initiating action; 2) Intellectual: Bible study/reading; 3) Spiritual: individual prayer, self-awareness; and 4) Emotional: attitude of attentiveness. These practices are important for all who lead in worship, as well as for those being led in worship.
The second layer: Our Story–Habitus of community. We have to start with the “my story” level, but there’s more. This layer is about communities made up of individual habits, but also habits that serve the health of the community or benefit from being practiced in community. The community level is the “work of the people”. She identified four worship practices for the communal level: 1) Physical: ritual actions such as anointing or baptism; 2) Intellectual: sermons and interpretation and discernment; 3) Spiritual: Hospitality–how we arrive at worship and how we treat others who are arriving too; 4) Emotional: Singing each other’s songs–submission and learning from each other, including the church through the ages and the church in other parts of the world.
The third layer: Habitus of God’s Reign: It’s not just individual or communal habits, but a whole bunch of habits that become more than the sum of their parts–they become a house, a whole way of being. The architect, contractor master builder and owner is God. The four worship practices at this level include: 1) Physical: eating together; 2) Intellectual: Worship planning/sermons that both comfort and disturb and especially that comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable; 3) Spiritual: Loving and praying for enemies–praying for their flourishing; 4) Emotional: Patience–working for change without having to make change happen. God is in control–it’s not up to us. This makes Christian formation possible, joy-full and energizing. We get to participate, but it’s not ultimately our responsibility. We are the ambassadors, not the king.