I haven't had any more responses to my thoughts on worship, but doggedly onward I go.
Marx once suggested that religion was the opiate of the masses, (or something close to that phrase). A recent conversation with a person in their twenties quoted this to me and it made me think about worship. Could twenty-somethings be offering some guidance to our worship and discipleship conundrum by quoting this phrase. Because this person quoted also believes in God and does not consider Atheism or Agnosticism an adequate descriptor of their particular relationship to God. It isn't God that is the opiate, but church. But notice what this person is implying they want. They don't want to be distracted or coddled or entertained by church/worship, they want to be challenged. At least, that is how I interpret this.
Could it be that there are some twenty-year-olds out there who would be just as dissatisfied with praise bands and hymns as they are with a tradition they don't understand because both are opiates, because neither option is challenging the participant to live just, robust and meaningful lives, but simply molifying them through life and making them feel a little better about death?
What surprised me about this conversation was that the twenty-something person enjoyed the traditional aspects of service, passing the peace, reciting the lords prayer etc, because they were done with passion and integrity. During the passing of the peace, people really did renew relationships and affirm their devotion to and love for one another. They meant it, in other words. And the Lord's prayer, which calls for faith, justice and a commitment to the poor and needy is recited so as to strengthen the body for a life of discipleship, which is discussed in the sermon. The sermons are challenging, this person said. Did you hear it? they liked a challenge and they appreciated a liturgy that put the challenge into practice and strengthened the body to go out and live that challenge.
Perhaps what young folks, (some anyway) want more than entertainment is to be challenged to do and be more. Perhaps they want a weekly practice that reminds them of the more they are created to be and do and a community that reminds them that they are God's children created to live lives of peace and justice and supports them in those endeavors.
I was amazed at the depth of insight shared with me by this twenty-something.
And I was given hope. Hope that we don't need to entertain younger generations to attract them to church. Hope that the church doesn't need to mirror a fairly shallow and disposable culture in order to reach people for Christ.