Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Rustic and Worship

There was a rustic who lived on the outskirts of the kingdom and who had gone to the big city to learn how to better serve the King. As he investigated, he found there where different ways to praise the King and His deeds. He decided to explore the different options.

The first group he visited followed the high traditional approach. They had elaborate and well-thought out proclamations and rituals that obviously went well back in history. Many of these were very beautiful and included depth of thought and theological consideration. The rustic found himself overwhelmed and awed by the majesty of the service.  But some seemed unnecessarily overdone, and when he asked what some of them meant, no one he asked seemed to know. He asked them why they followed this pattern, and they said it was because they had always followed it, which did not seem an adequate reason.

The next group he visited was oriented to contagious excitement.   They were enthusiastic, very spontaneous, shouted loudly, and danced. He found their open expressions of joy over the greatness of the King invigorating. The rustic found himself clapping his hands and singing loudly, carried away by the emotion. But he also saw a lot of running around and activity that was hard to follow. Sometimes they seemed just disorderly and out of control.

The third group was characterized by considered restraint. They eliminated everything that was simply traditional or disorderly in their eyes. They restricted themselves to certain obvious things, such singing and preaching. The rustic found the simplicity and lack of excesses calming. But he felt uncomfortable about being characterized by what he did not do. And he had to wonder if they were throwing out the baby with the bath water.

The final group was laid-back and mellow. They had the loose camaraderie of singing around a campfire. It had a friendly closeness that was attractive, without obvious extremes. The rustic found himself pulled into the simple celebration of togetherness. But the whole thing seemed too simple. It lacked the depth found in the other forms. And he found himself asking if the superficial feeling of well-being would stand up in real trouble.

The rustic walked away, studying the King's manual. While some of the extremes were spoken against, he could not find that any of these approaches was clearly commanded. He had to wonder if there was not some virtue in each of them and if they should all get together and try to learn from one another. But perhaps this was too much to expect.

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