Category Archives: Essentials Red

Symbolic Actions in Worship – my thoughts

I grew up in a time when the church was still in the midst of a pendulum swing towards intellectualism and reason. Sacraments (as I now know them) and symbols in the church were talked about almost as if they were magic. Furthermore, my family life was mostly devoid of experiences that incited my senses to experience God in mystical physical ways. Today, I long for those kind of tangible, repeatable experiences that captivate my senses in a procession towards truths and realities about God that my mere mind cannot fully translate.

Our culture is increasingly image-based and experience-focused. No longer can someone be “convinced” God is a good Father. They must experience it. If we were to glean from the past, the foundational symbolic activities that so defined their worship, I believe the result would be a harvest of folks who are waiting for the right symbol to unlock their hearts. Following Christ, after all, is primary a participatory endeavor.

True, a renewal of the mind (Romans 12) is often the driver towards Christ-activity; however, our minds are not fully renewed until our actions testify to it. Even from a purely secular educational standpoint, these kinds of symbolic participatory activities are clearly more effective then directly teaching as a constant, poignant reminder of the transcendent values they represent.


My favorite places…. (Essentials Red Vineyard 09 Week 1 Post)

“For: The Institute of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Red Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt.

One of my favorite pictures of me as a boy is of me walking alone on a northern Michigan trail around the small lake that my grandparents lived on.  I am standing alone, comfortable in my surroundings, with a beautiful fern frond in my hand.   If I don’t specifically remember that scene, I remember many like it.   In one I am walking or running alone on a Lake Michigan beach, separated from my family by a few hundred yards, and alone in swirl of creative thoughts, songs, and amusement.   In another, we are hiking at a State park and I am running – running with pure joy on my face as I dodge maples, jump over fallen birches, and crash through crackling leaves with no other purpose then to really feel alive.

I realize now that I was worshiping.  Sometimes I actually was thinking about God.  At other times just the fact that I felt more alive, more HUMAN, was reflecting glory to God.  Here I am reminded of that quote from Iraneous that the glory of God is man fully alive.

Often, as my mom used to say, I just needed to be alone.

Soon, I realized that I was an extrovert, and I often succombed to the silent pressure for all to become extroverts.   I would never have expressed that I enjoyed being alone, but as I reflect back on it, I always found a way to get there.  Although I think I would have survived high school a lot more easily if I had taken even more time to be alone.

Nature is a space I have often sought for experiencing God.  I live in the suburbs, so I have to drive to get somewhere really pretty, but I am learning to heed the call to find God spaces that are near me.  There is a drainage ditch that runs through the middle of my subdivision.  It is about 30 yards wide.  Well, because it hardly even rains here in Texas, it is almost always dry.  There, I go sometimes with a camp chair and just sit under the trees, watch and listen to the crackling leaves, and allow the embers of humanity to ignite into a heart blazing with love and wonder for my Love, my Creator, my Savior.Huntsville, TX