Someone once asked me, ‘Are you the pastor of one of those boring churches?’
‘Yes, yes I am,’ I replied.
Our church is pretty boring compared to most forms of entertainment one can find these days. We can’t really compete with the latest coolest music venues, we don’t have a coffee bar in our community center, we don’t even use video clips or projected images during worship. Truth is we are pretty boring by the world’s standards. We sing old hymns, our Bible translation reads like the Bible, I’m not particularly funny when I preach (not for lack of trying though), and our worship is full of time for silent prayer and meditation. From the outside looking in I would have to proudly proclaim, quietly, yes I am a pastor to a boring church.
But the crazy thing is that for me and for those who call our church home, that’s kind of the point. When we slow down and quiet ourselves enough, when we resist the temptation to numb ourselves with phones and YouTube videos and Facebook feeds long enough,
we start to cultivate an attentiveness to our experience of just being human, in all of its wonder and mundanity, and practice an ongoing awareness that God is truly with us, dwelling in everything, in each and every moment, even the quiet ones.
In quiet, contemplative worship we practice dwelling in grace. As Thomas Merton once put it, ‘in silence I learn to love my brothers [and sisters] for who they are not for what they say.’ In other words we learn to love without condition.
I think we can take it a few steps further, because in silence we also learn to love ourselves for who we are and not for what we say or do and in silence we learn to love God for who God is as we rest fully, beautifully and silently in God’s unforced and unmerited love and grace.