Why We Worship
God is WorthyWe worship because God is worthy of worship. We worship because Word, Sacrament, and the Gathering are the places where Jesus has explicitly promised to be with us … so while Jesus is free to be present in other places (sleeping, reading, studying in the library, etc.) there is wisdom in this idea: “If we want to be with Jesus, it makes sense to show up in the places where Jesus has promised to be!” Worship is one of those.
FormationWorship is also part of formation for leadership. In worship we learn how to lead and to follow. Most important, worship in this community teaches us that we are truly and fully worshiping even when we are leading! We come to “check out” how colleagues, visitors, pastors, bishops, and other guests exercise leadership and give public expression. Because liturgy at Trinity involves all members of the community, everyone gains practical experience and has the chance to experiment with a range of worship forms and styles.
CommunityWorship is the most reliable time and place to see each other. Faculty, students, and staff are all invited and expected and most are regular in their attendance. So in the pure face-to-face sense, worship is a community event. Worship also forms community in this way: it is here that we nurture one another in our vocations. Even acknowledging the inevitable presence of critical ears and eyes, we rejoice to see and support colleagues and friends who are preaching, playing music, leading, etc.
An Interesting Character
Worshiping in a roomful of “leaders” has an interesting character. A seminary is a community of individuals who are discerning their call to leadership in the church; but only a half dozen or so are ever “leading” worship at a time. That means that here you’ve got “leaders” playing the role of “followers”; “talkers” playing the role of “listeners”; “producers” playing the role of “consumers.” The down side of that is that inevitably such thoughts as, “I could do that better than she’s doing it,” creep into our heads.
The up side is that seminary chapel is a surprisingly invigorating place to lead worship. We get all the jokes and we know enough about the nerves and stresses of leading worship that we give each other an appropriate amount of slack.
In the typical parish setting, the same core group of leaders (pastors, assisting ministers, lectors, and musicians) are in place week after week; so even as forms change, there is continuity of voice and underlying style. At seminary, leadership changes all the time. This means we are always adjusting to new voices, and styles. The gift of that is that we are great sight-readers. The seminary community in worship is quick up on the uptake and can stay with you even when you’re doing something new.
Principles Guiding Our Worship
- Doxological … the first thing about worship is this: We worship because God is worthy of praise
- Liturgical (day by day worship follows traditional patterns more often than not; season by season we follow the lectionary and the liturgical year)
- Reflective of the worship life in our constituent church bodies
- Owned by all members of the community
NOTE: We recognize that these priorities will, at times, be in conflict and when that happens we rely on God’s dialogical and reconciling Spirit.