Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

The Enduring Act of Ancient Worship

hymns

College football is 77 days away. I have spent my entire life going to college football games and it is one of my favorite things to do. Scott and I originally met at Oklahoma State, so we have a transcendent and unbreakable bond as we rejoice and suffer together on Saturdays. But no matter your team preference, there is something amazing about the atmosphere of a college football game.

You gather together with thousands of your closest sisters and brothers with this bond of unity connecting you. This bond unifies you all, no matter where you come from or what else is going on in life. People dress a certain way, children paint their faces and try to get a look at mascots. Teenagers paint their chests and try to get a look at cheerleaders. The smells of body odor, hot dogs, cold pop, turkey legs, and bleachers waft through the air. Some of the more disgusting smells in the universe combine to create a trigger in your brain telling you that you are in the midst of something special.

Then we get ready for the game to start. This is honestly my favorite part. The band comes out, and we begin the ritual. A chorus of song and hand gestures rises up to the heavens. We sway and reflect and prepare. Then the energy rises. The anticipation builds. The trumpets sound, the drums bang, the flags wave, the band marches, the people scream and cheer and clap and there seems to be no other place in the world you would rather be.

Last season, I was at a game and as I was being swept up in this experience, my brain disconnected from the moment. I looked around and had the thought:

Are we really still doing marching bands?

Think about this. Do you have a marching band radio station on your pre-sets? Do you know anyone who fills their iPod with bangin’ marching band jams? We can appreciate what they do, but isn’t this art form a little archaic? With all the technology we have and the hundreds of different music genres available, are we really sticking with this? In some of the more exciting moments, the marching band music almost seems to detract from the excitement with it’s sing-song, hum-dee-ho kind of music.

Yet it endures.

Not only does it endure but it thrives. Every college does it, every high school does it. It won’t change. There is something about this time-honored tradition that taps into the heart and soul of college fans, and has for a couple of hundred years. I can walk up to an OSU graduate from 1950 and we know the same song, and have had the same emotions and experiences around that song. It creates a beautiful bond without us even realizing it. And when life brings us in contact with people we really should not have anything in common, these bonds seem even more acute.

This is worship.

When we think about it for very long, coming together once a week and singing songs is a strange thing to do. It seems outdated. Surely with all of our modern thinking we could find a better way to spend our time as Christians.

Yet it endures.

For centuries, Christians have come together to perform this ritual and practice it because there is something glorious, magnificent, beautiful and healing that happens when we do it.

It unites us. It unites us with those who sit in the room and sing the same songs. It unites us with people across the world and the centuries who have done the same things. It creates an atmosphere where we are able to encounter God and we begin to see God’s own image in people we might have otherwise overlooked and disregarded.

In such a strange act, we have places in our hearts, minds, and lives opened. Places we too often keep closed. It reminds us of our united humanity. It reminds us we are a part of something bigger. It reminds us that even when things get rough, there are other people who have been through the same experiences and emotions and came out on the other side. And we now sing the same song. It takes the disgusting pieces of our lives and helps us draw out beauty, perseverance, and hope.

It is amazing to me that worship is often an area of disagreement. If we are arguing about worship, we are not allowing worship to do its job. Worship is about human community, trust in a God who never gives up, and hope in a world that often doesn’t make sense. It creates margins in our lives to make sense of the chaos. It has persevered for so long because it taps into the core of what it means to be human. It assures us we are not alone in the universe and gives us the strength to go on for one more week.

May we learn to open ourselves up more and more to the unifying and healing work of God in this seemingly archaic, counter-cultural, oddly hopeful, and beautiful act of worship.

Trevor Cox is both a husband and a dad. He has been married to Brittany for seven years. He has a four year old son and a one year old daughter. He was in youth ministry for 7 years before deciding to pursue his doctorate. He has a B.S. in Math from Oklahoma State and a M.A. in Family Life Ministry from Oklahoma Christian. He is currently working on a PhD in Education Studies from Trinity International in Chicago. You can read more of Trevor’s articles at sacredmargins.com

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