ABOUT THIS ISSUE’S THEME:
We don’t often think of worship as dangerous. The church parking lot, maybe. But a worship service? Definitely not. After all, we work hard to make sure that worship is a safe space. But are we working at cross-purposes with God? I love this quote from the poet Annie Dillard:
Why do people in church seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? … Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us to where we can never return.”
—Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), pp. 40-41.
Worship is dangerous for at least two important reasons: for one thing, as Jenn Johnson reminds us, the opportunity for us as leaders to misrepresent God is great. We need to seek a deeper foundation for our leading and songwriting that is rooted in God, not just our experiences. For another thing, Jim Hart points out that worship is dangerous because it is holy ground where revelation and reconciliation are real, and it points us to Kingdom action that moves out of our comfort zones.