The Hebrew word “adovah” translates to both “work” and “worship.” LuAnn Rourke offers two pieces of counsel for how to move forward with worship work in challenging times.
Superintendent, Heritage District
…a time for searching and a time for losing, a time for keeping and a time for throwing away, a time for tearing and a time for repairing, a time for keeping silent and a time for speaking. (Ecclesiastes 3:6-7)
Adovah is a Hebrew word that is translated both “work” and “worship.” Over the past year, worship work has become more time-consuming and tiresome for church leaders who had to produce worship that could be accessed in ways other than simply entering the sanctuary and connecting with familiar habits and patterns. It became a time for searching and losing and keeping and throwing away as we filtered through what is necessary, what is impossible, what is wise, what is relevant, what will keep people engaged as they gather to worship in new ways.
By necessity, the church came to the people – in living rooms and kitchen tables – on cellular devices or computers – over the phone – and in print as bulletins and manuscripts were dropped on doorsteps. Now, as restrictions on gathering are lifting, church worship and program planners ought to be asking questions about connecting people with worship all over again. For such a time as this, I offer my two small copper coins worth of wisdom:
- Give time for prayer and listening. The need to pivot, to stay fluid, to find a place to stand in the constantly shifting sand of protocols and divisive declarations has left many clergy and lay leaders battle-weary and worn. It has been a time of tearing and repairing. Now, let’s make time to keep silent to speak wisely when the need arises. The loudest voice is not necessarily the most faithful guide.
Scripture speaks of crossroads moments where we seek a good way and then walk in it (Jeremiah 16:6), where we listen for the voice directing us to stay on track (Isaiah 30:21). Make prayer, both personal and corporate, a priority these days. Resolve to listen more than you speak. Remember that words have power. Use that power for good.
- Don’t wait for people to “come back to church.” We are beginning to recognize that some people are not coming back. What will we do about that? Will we do the work of worship that compels us beyond our habit of spending one hour a week in the gathering place? Will we move forward in the awareness that worship is a way of life every hour of every day? Will we continue to try new things, adopt new habits, and work to reach the disconnected and disinterested, wherever they are, by whatever means is necessary, or will we just keep the door open, put on a pot of coffee, and wait for them to come to us?
These challenging times are grand opportunities to speak with mercy and grace into the broken systems and circumstances we encounter daily. This is the work of worship. This is adovah. Take the risk as you re-think worship to move the sacred into the secular. Where are the families in your community gathering? What would it take to reach them where they are? Where are there places of fear and darkness in your life or your community? How might you move toward them with faith and light? What if we listened to people who think differently than we do instead of speaking loudly in defense of our own positions and ideas?
To everything, there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. This is a season for worship work – for adovah. May we be found faithful in the midst of it all.