Resurrection as Worship
Sara Miles, author and founder of The Food Pantry ministry, talks about the purpose of worship in raising the dead. If the resurrection is a reality that embraces the lives of all of God’s people, then worship should not be a passive experience centered on only words and ideas, but it must also encompass a tangibility and reality that comes with human existence. In other words, we can begin to understand God more fully when we can dance with God and the all the saints.
Questions for Reflection
- Miles begins, “We do worship because we want people to actually have an experience of worship and not just talk about worship. And our point of our worship and the point of all the incredible icons that are in there is that we are making this stuff by hand.” She continues, “We invite everybody to participate in worship because we believe God invites everybody to participate in God’s restoring work.
How do churches often reinforce passivity in worship?
How is this different from worship at other church services? How does this kind of worship speak to their beliefs about the relationship between people and God?
- Miles asks, “What is music for? What is the purpose of music?” She says, “We’ve made a conscious decision to run our worship aimed at the stranger, aimed at the person who has not been here before,” and adds, “As soon as you walk in the door we invite you to be part of making it happen.”
How does this conscious effort to include the stranger and including people into worship a reflection of the gospel?
- Miles says, “The question is not ‘what is worship,’ but ‘what it is for?’ Worship is for transforming you. Worship is for raising the dead. Worship is for bringing ourselves into God’s world with the rest of God’s other people. Becoming a people when there was no people, becoming alive when there was death, that’s what worship is for.”
- How does this purpose help churches move beyond worship style and taste? Miles describes the liturgy of the service at St. Gregory of Nyssa. There are times of silence, broken by a sermon, whereby people participate “by sharing from their own experiences where that story has connected with their story” and “allowing the Spirit to talk through them.” Miles says, “We dance the final hymn around the altar and the saints dance above us. And the physicality of being jammed up to dance with other people singing and dancing with this entire world of saints going on and on. I understand I am a piece of a dance that is going on with Jesus at the lead of it. I don’t understand it in an abstract doctrinal way, I understand it physically.” How does this type of liturgy help to bring people into the reality of the gospel and resurrection? How can our understanding of God become more physical? In other words, how can churches move from a purely intellectual understanding of resurrection to something that is expressed in reality?