I am not in the entertainment business. I do conduct regularly scheduled meetings of people bound together by similar interests. There is music involved – speaking and listening – there is even an audience participation element (see music). We follow reasonably strict schedules, I make use of electronic amplification – there is a seasonal light show. There are undeniably theatrical elements in these gatherings, and no doubt, some of our number find these meetings mildly entertaining – even enjoyable…but I am not in the entertainment business.
I lead worship. I am a minister of the Christian Gospel. I offer sacramental and pastoral support to the gathered people of God in my communities, and I am weary (and wary) of the temptation to use entertainment to attract people to our endeavours.
Entertainment is something you choose because it lifts your spirits, and helps you forget your troubles, unless you are a fan of horror movies, which do all of that with a tinge of terror – making your personal problems seem small by comparison. Worship is an encounter with the divine, and an invitation to accept the divine presence in our less than perfect reality. Worship invites compromise, asks difficult questions, asks us to think for ourselves about the stunning claim God makes on our lives through Jesus Christ, and that is not often very entertaining – it is life changing… and therin lies the problem.
We have convinced ourselves that life is fine (and getting finer). We have everything we need (in the North American/Northern European world, at least). We are occupied with entertainment and nothing else matters. The Christian Church (when it is genuinely the Church) professes otherwise, therefore the church is irrelevant. So says the large majority of my friends and neighbours. Not out loud, of course. They would never outwardly mock my career choice (not if they would be my friends..) – no, they speak by not speaking – by staying away – by declaring with their time, and talents what they think is important. That’s fine.
The church has her strengths, in addition to her many weaknesses – the gospel has its advocates and more than sufficient detractors – and still the call of God does not go unheard, or unheeded.
God’s call has convinced me that we don’t always know what is good for us. The gospel assures me that even when I get it wrong, and confuse my will with divine justice, or when we go down a path that makes worship into nothing more than a pleasant way to pass the time on a Sunday morning, there is still something grander going on than we imagine. We have been invited to life – encouraged to love – and not a life and love of our own limited invention or imagining, no, through Christ we are welcomed into the life and love of The Divine One.
Entertaining? Not at all! Interesting? Every moment.
Worth giving up an hour on a Sunday? Why don’t you come and see?
Aug 30, 2011