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Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Worship and World-Making
I will always remember our family vacation to Disney World when I was a child. Entering the park literally immerses one into a magical kingdom, a completely new and totalizing reality. Old has gone, albeit temporarily.  New has come.  I remember most everything about the trip.

On one of the hotter afternoons I remember our family escaping into an air conditioned theatre for some respite. I had never been in a theatre like this. It was completely round and there were no seats. Curtains covered all the walls. The lights dimmed, the curtains raised and screens illumined all the way around us. I can’t recall the images that were on the screen that day, but I can’t forget the way it impacted me. To look in any direction was to see a different horizon of the film. It was like we had been dropped in the center of the world of the movie and every inch of the circumference was a different angle on the story. I was in a movie that was depicting the world as it really was in the seamlessness of its horizons. Regular movies now seemed flat in comparison.

In retrospect, the 360 degree theatre was a microcosm of the larger experience we were having as a family at Disney World. Everywhere we turned was another imaginative facet of this world. 

In a sense, this is what going to church (gathering for worship) should be like.  (not Disney World-- but entry into the World of God's Story)  This is how worship narrates us into the Christian story. The best worship practices orient us to the center (i.e. Father, Son, Holy Spirit) in such ways that bring the circumference of the Story into panoramic vision.  (Think about how stained glass storytelling works)

Why is Story-Centric worship so important? Consider this word from Robert Jensen in his essay entitled, "How the World Lost its Story."

"Throughout modernity, the church has presumed that its mission was directed to persons who already understood themselves as inhabitants of a narratable world. . . . . In effect, the church could say to her hearers: 'You know that story that you think you must be living out in the real world? We are here to tell you about its turning point and outcome.'

But this is precisely what the postmodern church cannot presume. What then? The obvious answer is that if the church does not find her hearers antecedently inhabiting a narratable world, then the church must herself be that world."
Do  you connect with this idea?   How does worship do this?  (i.e.  shape an inhabitable, narratable world).  If worship is not doing this, then what is it doing?

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posted by John David Walt | at 7/02/2008 09:00:00 PM



Blogger JAy. said...

For starters, I love the image of the 360 theater as it relates to worship. Getting the worshippers into the center of the story is the key to affecting not only their lives, but the rest of the world as well.

I am not sure that the quote you have included near the end depicts my thoughts as well. I do not think that most people have a concern regarding whether or not they live in a narratable story. The issue is how do we show people that the story in which they live is not independent from the story we hear preached in church. Though we are separated by 2000 years from Christ, the story continues. Furthermore, the story is not parallel to our own story, but instead overlaps directly. It is then up to each of us to allow the two stories to become fully intertwined every day.

God Bless,

9:41 AM EDT  
Anonymous john page said...

Welcome back from vacation!
"Bringing the circumfrence of the Story into Panoramic vision" ...that may well be the best definition of worship I've seen in awhile.
How would we do that?

11:31 AM EDT  
Anonymous alyssa said...

I have always thought of worship as an opportunity to be ushered into the presence of God.

It could be argued that sometimes that's very close to the world of God's story. Other times, humanity stands in the way of communion with Him.

Perhaps the goal as Christ followers is to worship on a grandeur scale... our lives as a reflection of worship and the world...

12:25 PM EDT  

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