Whole Lotta Church

Category: By Christian
This weekend I achieved an all-time personal high in terms of the number of worship services attended in one 20-hour period. Before you etch my name on the "Mr. Piety" trophy, you should know that all of the worship services were required for a class I am currently taking on the practice of worship. If you are good with that, then I will gladly accept your trophy. Please remember that "Dashiell" has two L's. It's a common mistake on trophies, certificates and such.

Friday night my class attended Shabbat service at a local synagogue. Surprisingly, I've never been to synagogue before. I was thus very excited to experience it for the first time. In hindsight, I probably should have been a little more cautious. Not that the people there were mean or anything. In fact, they were very very nice. I just never realized how uncomfortable it is to go to a religious service and have little to no idea about what is going on or what to do next. With my limited knowledge of Hebrew I did alright, but what really helped me out was the gentleman sitting next to me who, noting the fact that I was badly limping throughout the service, gave me just about every clue imaginable to help me keep up. It gave me a new and healthy perspective on how people must feel the first time they come into a Christian church. Not an easy deal.

It would have behooved me to do a quick study on contemporary synagogue practices. Oh well. We did have a nice Q&A session afterword, which was helpful. I think the woman who met with us after the service was glad to have a group of seminary students asking questions, because we came in with a pretty good knowledge base as far as ancient Jewish practices go.

One down, six to go. That's right. Six.

Part of the class is for us to break up into groups of 3 and each plan a worship service. Then, we have to lead the class in worship. Since the class is a weekend intensive (we meet Friday night and all day Saturday 4 times throughout the semester), all six groups had to lead worship on Saturday. I was sceptical that it would be a good experience, but I was proved wrong. Because we all have diverse backgrounds within Christianity, there was quite a bit of variety to the services. It was healthy to not only see but also experience how other people worship.

The most enlightening worship elements were brought in by a Cherokee man in my class who is a minister to fellow Cherokees. He demonstrated how traditional Native American rituals have been combined with Christian theology and spiritual practices to provide ways to worship that honor both God and Cherokee traditions. For instance, to begin the service he had a small pot at the front of the sanctuary. He burned some Cedar in the pot and explained that the odor and smoke represented the Spirit of God. Then, he took an eagle's feather and wafted the smoke toward us, explaining that as we smelled it we should be reminded that God's presence was among us as we worshipped. It was pretty tight.

The way I figure it, since I attended 7 services in 20 hours, I don't have to go to church again until the middle of June.

Just kidding.

Fair Dinkum

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