I have a brief comment on the way language shapes our values. If you want to consider differently your life as the Church, and as the Community of God on mission, talk about it accordingly. The Church is the Body of Christ. It is not a package of religious goods and services intended for your consumption.
I know it's the common, easy thing in our culture to "have church." But it's conveys and reinforces some pretty bad ideas when it gets right down to it.
One may "have" dinner. One may "have" a whore. But you may not "have" the Body of Christ.
Unless, perhaps, you are using it as a harlot?
If I am asked if I "liked a worship service" I typically answer that it is none of my business. It would be presumptuous to assume that it was for me, and if it was for me, some people have faulty values. It is God and God alone who may appropriately and unpresumptuously "like" a worship service. Whether I find a particular liturgy helpful in my devotion and worship of God is a separate question, and a valid one. But let's not think that it's a performance for us. If we can call a liturgy a performance, it is for God alone. It is formative to us, and makes us as a people "for God," but it's not for us to enjoy or not.
It's not a question of mere semantics. The language we use derives from and contributes to particular values. So let's stop having Church. Let's stop going to Church. Let's be the Church, the People of God. Worship is a verb, not a noun. It's sure as hell not a commodity.
I prefer to use worship as a verb at all costs. Maybe the phrase "gather with my community" or "pray the liturgy" or "celebrate the Eucharist together." They might sound awkward, but they certainly aren't more mystifying to the people out there than any of the other things Christian folks say. Admittedly, I do talk about "attending services at St. Aldates," or even as shorthand, "attending Aldates" (or whatever) but we need to be teaching ourselves to think in terms of being part of a community and worshipping with that community and sharing our lives with it, rather than consuming religious goods and services.
As a disclaimer, some of my closest friends use that language, and again, I do sometimes as well. We're not bad for doing it. I know that they and I don't think about the Body of Christ in those ways. Some people do. It's not awful and terrible that we talk that way, but I do think it's time we moved on to something healthier that will reinforce a better way of thinking about ourselves as the Church. I think it's something worth thinking about, and perhaps something worth discussing.
pause for silent prayer
5 months ago