Worship can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Being that I'm a minister (and a dork!) I will admit that my first thought goes to a traditional sanctuary with stained glass windows, hymnals, a piano or organ, a robed minister, and a Sunday morning. I think of sacraments, or order, of liturgy.
The irony of this image is the fact that some of my most meaningful and truly worshipful experiences rarely have fit into this picture. Yes I have participated in, and even led, several fantastic worship services that fit into this mold. But I have also participated in and led just as many more that did not.
For me, I think that true worship comes down to honesty. Forget the pretension. Forget the expectations. Forget the ritual for the sake of ritual. Keep the passion. Keep the emotion. Keep the simplicity that is breath-takingly beautiful. Keep God at the center and the rest will fall into place. Unfortunately, this is not what happens. We, as participants and leaders, won't allow it to happen because we get too bogged down in the details of what we do or don't do. We don't open ourselves to that level of honesty in our community and the community doesn't open itself to that level of honesty with us, either. Its unfortunate.
It's been a long time since I have been able to simply sit back and worship God. I am often stuck in the planning, preparing, and "performing" of worship. The community lacks cohesive connection. I spend more time critiquing the form of the sermon than opening myself to its message. I miss the experiences of my stomach fluttering and my heart soaring.
I was very blessed to have the opportunity to simply worship God at camp. Maybe it was because it was such a "safe" space, free from judgement, pretension, and expectation. Maybe it's because of the honesty of youth. Maybe it's because it is simply something different. Whatever the reason, it is something beautiful and special and exactly what my soul needed. Even in a position of planning and leading worship, it was so exciting and such a special experience. I am already excited about the possibility of returning next year.
Like all camp experiences, I know it can't last forever. Truthfully, I don't think I would want it to. Part of what makes these camp experiences great is the fact that they are indeed special, not simply a new norm. However, I do hope that I can remember some of these good things even when times get hard and hold on to those memories until I can have another wonderful experience!