Worship and Preaching

San Antonio, 2011

Worship is the center of what we do together. It is the one time an entire community gathers on a regular basis, so it’s a unique opportunity to explore where our individual and institutional lives unite in common purpose. Worship serves many parallel functions: to ignite the spiritual passions of the gathered; to educate and inspire; to remind us of our shared values and ethics.

Worship is where our lives as a people of faith converge. Too often we limit our spiritual interests to the individual. While being inspired to think about our spiritual lives in a refreshed way is an important aspect of worship, the spiritual direction of the community is also something to address in worship. How can we serve not only our personal interests, or those of our particular “tribe,” but the world around us? What does it mean to be a people of progressive and engaged religious faith?

Christmas Eve, 2009

It’s not that we share the same ideas about God. It doesn’t mean holding to a pre-defined set of religious practices. It doesn’t mean finding a expression of faith that can be crammed into a mushy elevator speech.

To be a person of progressive faith is to have confidence that what we are doing makes a profound difference in the world and in our lives. It is to have faith the universe is a place where goodness and resolve can act against the forces working to thwart human dignity and progress. It is to have faith that the power of Love can heal broken, beautiful lives — and a broken, beautiful world.

“Song for All Ages” at Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 2007

I love trying new worship styles in an adventurous spirit of exploration—adopting the ones that beautify the experience and abandoning those which feel gaudy or cheap. Good worship is beautiful and grace-filled. Good worship happens when liturgical pieces flow one from the other, like a good story. Good worship happens when music and song aren’t just added to fill the spaces between ideas, but are themselves integral to the hour’s movement.