Why Do We Worship Together?
Religion comes from the word "religio" - to bind. We are all capable of seeing the Holy in a sunset or a mountain. It's easy to turn in on ourselves and to think we've got all the answers. It's harder to translate that Holiness in times of trial, or into the work of repairing the world. This is why we come together. It is not enough to be individually spiritual. It is not enough to say "I feel fulfilled." We must take our spiritual understanding and let it inform how we operate in the world. This is part of the work of the church then - to help us to learn to live out our beliefs and our covenants.
When we join together in weekly worship, we come from many places, and we must meet people where they are. Some people are well along on their spiritual journeys, and some are just beginning. The task of the church is to speak to all of the gathered. At times we must challenge each other, sometimes we are called to comfort one another, sometimes we must call one another to action. Sometimes we must do these things all at once, and all in the context of deepening our spiritual understanding. This is the challenge of worship.
Congregations must also adapt to the changing needs of our times. When the pandemic began, many congregations had to learn how to navigate online church for the first time. The new normal means that we must continue to be accessible to people in all the ways people need. That means navigating multi-platform worship and making sure that those who join online are full participants in the worship service.
We Unitarian Universalists are covenantal, rather than creedal. As such, we don't subscribe to a particular statement of faith, but rather, in covenant with one another, we encourage each other on our own spiritual journeys. Therefore, within our UU umbrella, we hold many different theologies, and we must make room for all of them in worship. We do this, not by sinking to the lowest common denominator, but rather by celebrating our differences, and by learning from one another. We are at our best in worship and as a religious community when we can say to one another, "tell me more about how that speaks to you."
To that end, I believe that worship should include many different ways of praying, singing, and moving. Because we're in community, because we're bound together by covenant, we may try new things from time to time. We do the work in the church, and it prepares us to be out in the world.
Check out some of my sermons here: