Wednesday, November 24, 2010

So What Is "Church?" #Catholic

This is one of the many questions about church that continues to nibble at me. I'm not saying my musings here are right or wrong. They're just thoughts. Questions. What-if's.

When I attended the non-denominational church, my life was a hectic whirl of activity. Not only was I at church services Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night -- but at Bible study groups and ministry meetings throughout the week. It was a roller-coaster ride of finding out what my spiritual gifts were and then finding places to use them. Or even if I wasn't exercising my gifts, to volunteer for something. No matter what, the message from the church seemed to be: Don't just sit there, do something!

Yesterday, I did some searching on the Internet for my old church and also, another search on my first Vineyard pastor that greatly influenced me. I found a blog that included an interview from one of the pastors and admittedly, felt a sense of relief that my choice of "living church" is more subdued. During the interview, my old pastor said this regarding home churches: We help them to prepare for an encounter with God and His Word.

And I wondered: is this the purpose of church? To me this approach seems backwards. I've always believed that we come to church to worship God first. As we focus on Him, perhaps He may speak to our hearts. Or maybe not. But my decision to attend church is to give worship to Him, not to get something from Him; which may sound snippy but that's not my intent. I love it when I sense God speaking to me through the reading of Scripture or a specific moment in the liturgy. I love those times when I know I'm receiving a revelation of His truth and so very often, they are small but precious, like a diamond. His truth, at least the way I get it, is usually something small but powerful. Like realizing suddenly that my vocation is marriage or how we as a church are to offer God our lives in sacrifice (during the liturgy's offertory).

I don't receive these types of revelations all the time, which I'm fine with. I cherish them when I do. But most of the time, I'm there to worship Him, thank Him, and rejoice with all the saints that we are so loved.

One of my old pastors is affiliated with a Christian college. I found the college's website online and listened to a few videos of the worship band. I couldn't even listen all the way through. The musical style reminds me too much now of the 70's folk tunes. In fact, the style hasn't seemed to have changed much during the past twenty years. It's this dreamy, breathy kind of music that typically has a young "twentysomething" woman holding a mic close to her mouth while her eyes are closed and she's repeating the refrain hypnotically.

It just feels too "me-ish." But maybe it doesn't matter because she's in the place she needs to be during this time in her life. For me, it's only another reminder of how much I've changed; how far into the interior spiritual life I've gone. The music I prefer now is Gregorian chant or classical hymns like Panis Angelicus.

I'm also suspecting that my perspective on church has changed as I've grown older. Before, I liked all the excitement of a large worship band, thumping out a rousing twenty minutes of worship music. Now I want silence. I like being in a pew, kneeling, while everyone else is silent, recognizing there is a time and place for focusing on God.

Have you recognized changes in yourself regarding how you look at church? Has anything shifted for you?


Jackie said...

No . I still find it very hard to focus as to what is exactly taking place at Mass. The sacrifice and all .
I have always had a hard time with contemplative prayer .

kkollwitz said...

I'd say the more familiar I become with the Bible (a lifelong process), the more apparent is the relationship between the Bible and the Mass.

kkollwitz said...

A small but worthwhile edit:

"the more intimate is the relationship"

joannaB73 said...

I can totally identify with this piece. :)