I do love being surrounded by wise and thoughtful—as in always thinking people. This past Sunday as we thought about worship as defined by the theologian Soren Kierkegaard where he states that worship is a drama with the people as actors, the pastor as a prompter and God as the audience I was reminded by several of you about what a limiting view of worship this is. While it is much superior to the idea that we come to worship to be entertained by the people leading worship as an audience in a public performance it can at some point place the people participating in worship into performers seeking to please God with their performance of worship. This is perhaps an equally unsatisfactory view of worship.
I was reminded by one of you of another definition of the word “audience”: a formal hearing or interview with someone of authority and another: an opportunity of being heard and yet another: the act or state of hearing. These definitions can expand our view of worship into an opportunity to come into the presence of God in order to be heard and to hear. Essentially making both God and the participants in worship “audience” in one or the other of the definitions. What is removed is the unspoken word that often is thought of in partnership with “audience” and that is “entertainment.” We are not in worship to entertain God, or ourselves but are in worship to hear and also to be heard. The elements of worship are there to prompt the speaking and hearing on both sides. Come this week to worship prepared to participate in an audience with God as a community of listeners and speakers. This is only the beginning of this discussion—please keep talking and thinking!
Dr. Judy Fiske
Minister of Music/Worship