Sunday, June 14, 2009

What if we looked at our worship as a real dialog?

Thumbing through a stack of vintage Worship magazines I inherited and ran across a statement in an article from March 1989 by Michael Skelley on Karl Rahner's idea of worship:

"The unceasing wonder of worship is that it is a dialogical relationship with the absolute mystery; an event in which we are graciously addressed by God and in turn, gratefully respond to Him." He goes on to discuss Rahner's idea of openness to God, and that our ongoing daily relationship to God is what we bring to our worship.

So, what if we took that seriously? I think most people recognize that in the liturgy of the Mass, the assembly is sometimes in dialog with the presider. They would realize that both the assembly and the presider frequently lift our voices in prayer and song to God. But, when does God address us? And, are most members of the assembly conscious of that?

Rahner would say that God is always speaking to us in our everyday life, so in our very gathering for Mass, we are responding to that ongoing dialog. Also, in the readings - through the work of the Holy Spirit, we are hearing the Word of God, which God told us never goes forth from his mouth without effect. (See the Introduction to the Revised Lectionary for Mass, Section 9, for more on this process .) Certainly, in the Eucharistic Prayer, especially during the Words of Institution, we hear Christ addressing not only his friends gathered at that first table, but us, gathered at this celebration. And there is the unspoken Word - Christ, whom we receive and are asked to embody and become like when we receive the Eucharist.

Is there more wordless communication from God? Certainly. God speaks to us through the presence of the community, through the presence of the presider, through the familiar rhythm of human ritual that enfolds us, taking us out of our daily sense of time and for that one hour or so, transporting us to the heavenly banquet, among the Communion of Saints - in God's time.

Given all this, should our response not be whole-hearted and genuine? Should our participation in the liturgy not be with our whole heart, mind and being?

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