As Richard and I have been thinking through this issue's topic of Worship, we have had in mind both the worship we do as congregations and as individuals. There is a long Christian tradition of seeking to make everything we do an act of worship to our great and generous God. But when most of us think about worship, we think of what happens in our church on Sunday morning (or evening). Over recent years, that concept has been expanded to include prayer meetings, retreats, Messy Church, and many other mid-week activities. It's good to keep expanding our vision!
The crunch for congregational worship comes when we have disagreements about what should/should not be included in our worship. There is a fine balance to be struck between the comfort of our tradition and the challenge of experiencing new forms and styles. If it's all comfortable, we can get stuck in a meaningless rut. If it's all challenging, we can feel overwhelmed and alienated. I suspect that within our circuit we could find preferences for a very wide range of comfortable and challenging ways to worship. None will be perfect for all of us. The real essence of worship is that our thoughts and actions are directed towards God and God's will for each of us in our daily lives. Worship, then, is about being in God's presence and offering ourselves to God. Is our worship pleasing to God? Does it bring us closer to God? Does it bring us closer to each other? Does it inspire us to new thoughts and actions and commitments? Our circuit is blessed with a large number of ministers and preachers who give us a wide variety of congregational worship experiences each week. In this issue, we are exploring a few of those and how they help us grow closer to God and each other. Bonni-Belle