Sometimes I wonder whether the number one job of the priest ought to be worship.
Martha complained to Jesus that Mary was not doing her share of the work, leaving Martha double-duty. (See Lk:10:38-42) Jesus watched both of them, Martha so very, very busy with household work, and Mary equally busy with her far different occupation. Jesus answered Martha’s complaint with a sigh. Martha, Martha.
Sometimes we read Jesus’ response to Martha literally, as though Jesus thought of household work as superfluous, a waste of time, even. We know this cannot be true. The house must be cleaned, garbage taken out, dishes dried and closeted. Jesus understood that fish must be cooked, water must walked-upon and fishermen must row to the other side. Martha’s work was not superfluous; her anxiety was. She was, Jesus observed, anxious about so many things, worried and fretful. Be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God.
Worship. I wonder whether the number one job of the priest ought to be worship. Yet, how often have I found myself dutifully anxious about the roof of the building, the pledge drive, and personnel reviews?
Worship, but I do not mean Sunday worship – at least not its planning and weekly execution, the preparation of bulletins, hymn selection, or even sermon prep. These household chores are important and must be accomplished.*
No, by emphasizing worship, I mean to suggest that the number one job of the priest might be the actual praise of God. The heart turned heavenward in the daily practice of worship, and more – the life turned heavenward. The hands reaching into the garden’s soil to feel the spirit of creation joining hands and offering thanks for life. The feet walking the path and feeling the thrill of God’s nature echo its ageless song of gratitude. The body breaking bread with another, literally and metaphorically, in an experience of spiritual and emotional unity that refracts the same unity emanating from the Trinity.
Worship, and how much of my time do I spend otherwise? Anxious and fretful about so much else.
Rejoice! The prophet Zephaniah urged. Rejoice! The apostle Paul implored.
Worship is expressed by the heart turned upward, but also by the life changed and committed to justice, by the way we treat others, our willingness to forgive, our desire to give. Two coats, and give one away. Worship, as in how I live my life, in how I disclose the love of God tucked sideways into my heart.
Praising God because God is worthy of praise above all else. Even Job declared in the midst of suffering, Tho God slay me, still will I trust. (Job 13:15) Tho God slay me, still will I praise. Still will I worship. Still will I love. Still will I give myself in hearty devotion to a God I know like Job knew above all else loved me.
Sometimes I wind my way through church corridors and into the nave where I will find the piano. Sometimes I will worship God through my fingers, but other times I will worship by becoming part of the still quiet of the space. To listen, then play, then sing.
And wait. Because even though I said at the outset, I wonder, in truth I know. Number one call of all creation is worship. Adoration.
(*Actually, bulletins are superfluous and unnecessary, given the need to pay attention to the environment and the existence of hymnals and prayer books.)