This week Moon Beach hosted an annual clergy retreat. In addition to opportunities for rest, rejuvenation and getting caught up with colleagues, the workshop component of the retreat focused on the multiple purposes of our worship. Questions of why we worship, what we are trying to accomplish in worship, and how the events and ideas of worship can be improved were explored at great length. One of the concepts that was explored is the idea of worship providing an opportunity for God to break into and interrupt our typical actions and thought patterns. This interruption is possible because worship takes most of us out of our normal daily setting and it gives God an opportunity to grab our attention in ways that might be more difficult and less likely during the remainder of our lives. Without the rest of the commotion of our lives getting in the way, we can be more in tune to what God is potentially calling us to do.
After the retreat was over and I was driving back to Pilgrim Center I had an opportunity to reflect on what had been discussed concerning worship and how that related to what we are doing at our sites. We do not spend the bulk of our time at Pilgrim participating in traditional worship services, but we do spent the majority of the time inviting our guests to interrupt their normal daily schedules. We invite people to set aside the commotion of their daily lives and leave some more intentional space for God. It doesn’t matter if we are hosting an adult event or a week of youth camp, time at Pilgrim is intentionally structured differently so that God’s influences can be felt more directly. I am continually amazed and thrilled when guests share with me that they sense something different about our sites.
They might struggle with articulating what that difference might be, but there is a consistency in the words that are used. I frequently hear about; clarity, and peace, contemplation and sensing direction and purpose. We provide the space and the structure in which God is able to successfully interrupt and disturb the status quo. Maybe we don’t provide hours of daily formal structured worship services. At the same time, maybe worship begins with the ringing of our hopper bell for breakfast and concludes when the lights are turned off after evening vespers. My prayer is that God interrupts everything we do and inspires us to live out God’s world in all that we do.
~ Rev. Nathan Athorp