Tag Archives: Ministry Reflections

Worship: My Heart isn’t in It

I used to believe that when at worship on Sunday morning I had to have this intense experience in the singing.  Just singing the words was not enough, I had to feel them, it had to come from the depths of my being.  As time passed, if I didn’t have this experience at worship, I felt like there was something wrong with my relationship with God. I felt like I had to conjure up this thing inside of me to “feel” the worship if my heart was not in it.  Even just being open, if nothing happened, I felt like there was something wrong with me.  I prayed earnestly for this experience to happen.

Since leaving these forms of worship I have come to a different place in my understanding of worship.  My heart isn’t always in it but the liturgy always holds me. Sometimes I am just going through the motions.  But that is absolutely OK.  My being at worship doesn’t depend on my feelings, but God’s faithfulness.  The liturgy holds me because it isn’t about what I do, but who God is, and how God relates to me.  Through the proclamation of God’s saving grace in Jesus (Word) and through the visible Word of God (Sacrament), I am given the grace and strength to know that my faith doesn’t depend on my feelings at worship, but on a Jesus who is for me.

Now this is not to say that I don’t find myself moved at worship. Sometimes the songs or the words we hear move me, because it relates God’s unrelenting love for me. Sometimes I start to tear up or really experience it in the depths of my being.  But, I don’t always have these intense feelings at worship. It’s just like I am not always overcome by intense feelings when I tell my children I love them. But they do need to hear it and I need to say it.

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Ecumenical Lunches

Once a month, pastors from the Point Loma/Ocean Beach area gather together for lunch and fellowship.  No agenda is needed, we just enjoy each other’s company.  All pastors are welcome. If some do not come, it’s not because they weren’t invited.  The denominations represented today were: Lutheran, Episcopalian, Nazarene, Methodist, Catholic (both nuns and a priest), Presbyterian, Baptist, and non-denominational.  We shared a nice lunch at the Catholic church, we also rotate who hosts.

I am really impressed by how this group operates.  We look for things to do together for the sake of Ocean Beach.  When I first arrived in 2010 I was involved in helping with helping create a space for people to talk about issues surrounding homelessness. Remember the sticker that garnered national headlines?

The clergy had a series of forums that included residents, business owners, and the homeless.  We were hoping to calm the powder keg that was about to go off from these stickers.  I lead a group of folks that had all three of these groups talking in a civil way about their concerns for Ocean Beach. It was an amazing experience. I saw people start to realize that the people sitting across from them where actually people, not “the other.” By God’s grace nothing bad happened to the homeless or businesses.

We have also found ways of proclaiming God’s Word together.  On Good Friday we had an ecumenical faith walk.  We started at the Catholic church, read part of the passion narrative, and then processed to the next church and continued the narrative. In total we visited 5 churches.  There were 200 people in attendance representing most of the denomination in Ocean Beach. We held up traffic because the procession was so long!

Here is a picture from the service.

We are planning on holding an ecumenical foot washing for Maundy Thursday.

Most of all, I am impressed about how we do not let our theological differences impede our fellowship.  We could easily start a fight over an number of issues, but we don’t, we respect each others space and traditions.  That’s the beautiful nature of this group, we stay true to our own theological heritage, respect theirs, and see Christ working amongst our respective ministries.  I am honored to have been part of these lunches.  I am honored to have served in Ocean Beach with such a great group of clergy.  I hope that wherever God calls me there will be a group willing to share the city and proclaim Christ and him crucified.

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