Certain lines in worship services should not be crossed.
Worship leaders should not reserve distracting solos, leaving the rest of us wondering what, if anything, we are supposed to sing. All chanting and group readings of scripture should be left to cults. Praise Day worship orders should consist strictly of happy songs people already know to maximize potential participation. And Chapel should never start early. Ever.
These are my worship service hang-ups.
I also believe in taking speed bumps as slowly as possible, so slowly I periodically roll backwards. The daughter of a food microbiologist, I pick up raw meat at the grocery store using an inside out plastic bag from the produce section, inverting it around the meat to keep my fingers from ever actually touching the package – or anything in the meats section of the store, for that matter. At favorite restaurants, I stick to what I know; ordering the same thing week after week, because I know only disappointment can result from deviation.
In a lot of ways, I am not a reasonable person. But it’s not just me. Humans, in general, are not reasonable. We’re not made to be reasonable.
We long to stand out from the crowd – if not to the world, at least to a few. We celebrate individual talents and characteristics. In our careers, we seek to be unique, acquiring new skills, new ideas. Even peaceful Christianity calls us to live radically differently from the “social norm.”
Socrates once said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man tries to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
Yet during worship service, these “unreasonable” tendencies urging us to stand out sometimes encourage us to squelch the creative offerings of our fellow worshipers. We fight for what we believe works best for us.
Churches of Christ, especially, have a reputation for loyalty to system and method. We believe we have found the right way, and we stick to it. Sometimes, that is valid; the core values of our faith are immovable.
But sometimes, our inability to adapt, to let others worship in a way that best suits them, prevents our brothers and sisters in Christ from offering God their best. In our prejudice, we sometimes resist alterations to worship styles we find personally edifying.
Some lines in worship truly should not be crossed. But often, when I find myself protesting a worship practice, I eventually realize I am overreacting and need a dose of tolerance.
Every semester, Chapel coordinators endeavor to offer a spiritually edifying experience. I do not always enjoy the result. Yet, my goal this semester is to approach new Chapel experiences with an open mind. Objections will likely still arise. But I hope never to hinder someone else’s connection with God because I couldn’t handle singing a new song.
We have an opportunity – first as individuals, then as a campus – to create a truly supportive Chapel atmosphere this year. That will require singing to a different tune than many of us are used to, and I hope I won’t be singing solo.