Monday, July 25, 2011

I need Beauty

The older I get the more I'm driven outside to take in the beauty of what God has made. I simply need to sit and soak in the glory of God. Thus, to a certain extent, I can see why some people would rather worship God "in nature" than go to "church" on Sundays.

I'm reminded of something Brother Lawrence wrote in "Practicing the Presence of Christ"": something to the effect that "I find it difficult to think about God when I pray; but when I wash dishes I think about Him all the time." Indeed, I find myself thinking about God far more often when I'm outside fishing than when I'm inside a building singing.

Why do these observations ring true?


Tarquinius Superbus said...

I often stress to the congregation I serve we have 6.5 days a week to worship God solo. The time we meet is not a time of 'personal' worship PER SE, but a time for the family to worship together as a family in submission to one another and submission to God. Similar to the way kids are inclined to 'get along' on mother's of father's day. Sunday, is Father's day for the church.

For me, the need to worship God outside that building and apart from others is a simple revelation that corporate worship on Sunday morning is not enough. It is no surprise to me when I take the time during my week to worship God in solitude and in nature, the experience of the other (Sunday morning) is more obedient, passionate, and free.

I too would often be more content to 'go into my closet' or the wilderness; the atmosphere seems thinner there. There are reasons for this:

*Nature is sacred like a challis as it is meant to contain God's glory; it calls me.
*In everyday life I am surrounded by stimuli at every moment which points to self interest and not a loss of self.
*Nature (as Coleridge suggests) is sublime. And as Lewis would suggest, this state of sublimity is aroused through veneration (see Abolition of Man).
*Modern church design rarely attempts to create a place of 'thin atmosphere.' Adequate space for audio/video takes the place of aesthetics vis-a-vis symbols and design.
*Finally, with my brothers and sisters surrounding me, I realize I've not been trained to worship together with them. I don't like being vulnerable. I don't like the individual who has no good singing voice etc...

Speaking only for myself, I need to escape (or perhaps run to) the wilderness because it is something I don't do enough. Individual and corporate worship train one another. God's wants both, and we need both. I express myself through one and (in many ways) let go of myself through the other. Sorry for the length!

Grace and Peace

JDTapp said...

For me, it's not beauty but when my mind is quiet. That might be washing the dishes or mowing the lawn. It's rarely at church and rarely in the morning.

JD said...

i find a very earthy spirituality in scripture, particularly in the ot. people are worshiping God and learning about him outside, walking along the road, farming, staying cool under shade trees, having dinner around a fire in the open, practicing husbandry, fishing, fighting battles, carrying ashes to the ash heap, tending sacrificial flocks. even the tabernacle was open for the most part. scripture was spoken and written in these contexts. the lives of those in scripture were lived in these contexts.

skip to the nt. Jesus is walking the roads, gathering fishermen and tax collectors who have open air booths. people are meeting him on street corners and at wells. the pharisees and religious leaders try to confront him inside: at table, in the temple. even his arrest and death are performed outside. as well as the reinstating of peter.

the bible is an outdoor book, written by outdoorsmen, lived by outdoorsmen, experienced by outdoorsmen. the word of God, which first brought the outdoors into existence, i think is meant to be lived and applied, studied and examined, outdoors. not in a classroom or in a church building or even necessarily at set times during the week. its a living word, one that is to be experienced as we experience life.

Rodney Reeves said...

Beautiful insights, Tarquinius and both JDs.

I really like the idea that the Bible is an outdoor book, the "Celtic" reference to "thin places," and the need for quiet contemplation.

I guess we're all looking for Sabbath moments, aren't we?