Until last Sunday I had never met Peter Rollins. From a distance I thought he was brilliant and fearless, and up close I found him to be gracious, warm, and really humble. Oh, and brilliant and fearless.
We were talking about worship in the church and he shared this great insight…
“People go to a pub for one of two reasons. Either they go to get drunk and forget about their pain, or they go to have a drink and talk about their pain with someone else on the journey. They’re either trying to escape the Truth or dig deeper.
In a similar way, church can be a place to avoid Reality or honestly enter into the depth of it.”
Worship that only stays on the happy surface does a wonderful job of entertaining people into forgetting about their actual lives, but it only tells half the story. And after church, people return to the complexity of Reality without actual tools to engage it honestly with God, and this is so very unhelpful. On the other hand, worship that creates a safe place for people to honestly face both their joy and pain–while inviting God and the community to walk with them in healing, mourning, hoping, and celebrating –is something entirely different. And desperately needed.
The first understanding could be in danger of proving Karl Marx correct when he suggested
that “Religion is the opiate of the masses”.
The second understanding shouts “Amen” with the great African-American tradition reminding
us that “Church should be a hospital”.
Are you a part of a spiritual community that walks with you into the messy realities of life? Does your church teach you how to find God in the depths of darkness AND the highest light? Does Sunday propel you into honest engagement with the full complexity of Monday?
Worship leader friends, how do you create space for us to ask big questions and confront the questions that we run from all week? Do you trust that God is infinitely able to meet us in the tension of Reality…if we’re willing to go there? What might it look like–in your actual community–to follow the Psalmist’s embrace of every part of the human experience as we turn our whole, glorious, messy selves back to the God who’s been with us all along?