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Ask the Right Question: Week 3 | Day 3

Jesus constantly asks questions that force people to pause, to reach down within themselves, and to discover their own deepest desires. Br. Keith Nelson encourages us to bring such a questioning approach to our experiences of worship.

Question: How is your experience of worship an expression of God in your life?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Well of Life


Transcript: Some of the teachers that I have encountered in my life that have made the most lasting impact on me weren’t – they were teachers who had a huge range of knowledge in the field in which they taught – but they’re primarily people who knew how to ask the right question.  People who were such artists at teaching that they were able to ask questions in such a way that they forced me to pause, and to reach deep within myself for the resources of knowledge and perhaps even the resources of wisdom within myself to grow as a student.

So when we think about teaching, baptizing, and nurturing new believers, or all of us believers (because in a way we’re all new, we’re all novices at the way of Christ), if we think about the kinds of questions that Jesus asked, the kind of teacher that Jesus was, we see this way in which Jesus constantly asks questions that force people to pause, to reach down within themselves, to touch the desire that animates their life, that animates their spirit, and to bring forth a response that brings them closer to God in that encounter with this master teacher, Jesus.

In the early church, there were sort of two primary stages in the initiation of early Christians that I find really compelling.  Catechesis, this period that would last for all of Lent, and then people would be baptized at the Easter vigil, having been prepared in that season of Lent.  And then there would be a period of time from Easter to Pentecost, during which these new Christians who had been initiated into the mystery of Baptism, and the mystery of the Eucharist, will go through something called Mystagogy.  Mystagogy, which sounds a little bit like the word we have “pedagogy,” the leading or guidance of children. Mystagogy can be translated as the interpretation of the mysteries – in this sense the mysteries of Baptism and the Eucharist.  But also leading people deeper into the mysteries of the Christian faith.

I attended an adult Christian formation conference once that spoke about mystagogy in the contemporary church as the loving interrogation of our faith.  It truly kind of captivated my imagination that we have this loving interrogation.  So one thing that I have tried with our interns here, is that liturgically the Episcopal Church is so rich, and we’re swimming in this sea of liturgy all the time.  But I think we don’t always realize the ways in which our liturgy is a missional tool, if we stop to process it, to ask questions about our experience of it, and to appropriate the lessons that God may be taking us through our liturgy in our every day experience.

So what we have done with our interns is we have had a mystagogy session after the Great Vigil of Easter here at the monastery, where I simply ask our interns, “What do you remember doing?  What do you see?  What words did you say or sing?  What did you smell?  What do you remember about the experience?  And then how did it make you feel, just that honest, raw question of what feelings did you have?”  And then a third question, “What of God did it reveal to you, or is it revealing to you still as you look back upon that memory of that liturgical experience?”

So today you might reflect on how the liturgy on how your experience of worship has been an expression of the mission of God in your own life.

– Br. Keith Nelson

Question: How is your experience of worship an expression of God in your life?

Week 3 Activity: Well of Life
This activity invites you to explore the Baptismal Covenant in prayer and reflection during your day and throughout the week. Each morning, write a short prayer based on that day’s question from the Baptismal Covenant. Each evening, reflect on how you are living into this aspect of your faith.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

9 thoughts on “Ask the Right Question: Week 3 | Day 3

  1. in the pentecostal church of my youth the sacrament of communion was held once a month. it was a day i looked forward to …or not depending on how badly i thought i had sinned….because i knew i would feel convicted during that beautiful rite. the songs seemed more stirring on those sundays, the praise and thanksgiving more heartfelt…people wept openly as our pastor reminded us of Chists’ broken body and the reason for his sacrifice. as i held the tiny glass of grape juice, the broken piece of matzoh i remember feeling deep kinship with everyone partaking at the same time. i loved communion so much it was a major drawing point for joining the anglican community after i had moved away from my hometown. now, i have the ability of partaking in this sacrament each time i worship! It has been 30 plus yrs and i still feel that special nearness of gods grace during communion, that my sins are forgiven… that i can go forth every week and be forgiving.

  2. I have been blessed to have five lovely persons who either asked the right questions, challenged or comforted me and changed my life.
    The first asked “have you really looked at how advertiesments are designed to sell their product? I became much more aware of how I could be influenced.
    The second asked “have you really stopped to look at and listen to the miracles of Nature” ? I have been inquisitive of and enraptured by these miracles ever since.
    The fifth Challemged me to “go and experience many religions”. I came to realise that, fundamentally, religions teach the same message, except those of a cultic nature. So why should there be discord?
    The fouth comforted me ” You can only do your best and that is good enough”. I have been comforted ever since.
    The fifth challenged me with ” what a f…g waste of a good person,” I have been sober and in touch with my feelings ever since.
    These five persons were the voices of God; we all can be His Voice.

  3. Worship is the sustaining love of God given to me. The ability to worship through Church Sunday Worship and times of prayer, singing, reading scripture is my gift to God, which in turn continues to nourish and challenge me in my life. Then I take this love out of the Church to share with others.

  4. I guess when it comes to reflecting on the liturgy what is most meaningful to me right now is being a lector. This is the first year I’ve taken part in this ministry and I must say it has been a blessing ways I would not have guessed.
    I had to go through a training to be licensed to do this. Others who have been lectors were also in attendance and it was very humbling to hear those who have engaged in this ministry for years, talk frankly about what performing this ministry means to them. Our pastor gave instruction that helped me realize that reading the word of God at Mass begins well before walking up to the lectern and reading from the page into the microphone. I learned how one prepares some days prior to this with reading the verses over and over, absorbing and internalizing and allowing God’s message to sink in and the meaning to become clear. When done with full awareness, the process is very nurturing as it makes me aware of the power of love and wisdom in the word of God that I will be communicating to the people of God. Being a lector has given me a deepened appreciation for the word of God and that brings added joy as I listen to the other lectors knowing the meaning that this ministry has for them as it does for me.
    Being a lector helps me to appreicate the Wrod of God by contemplating it deeply in private reflection so that hopefully, when I read these words to the congregation their true meaning can come through with clarity.

  5. When I was young, I was churched in a Disciples of Christ congregation, and we also received communion every week. Welch’s, and these tasteless little stale bread-like things which looked kinda like Pez. As youngsters, we joked about it being “refreshments”. I ended up marrying a nice girl from the church, but then we started our own lives, and grew away from the church, as well as each other.

    Now, two marriages later, I’ve met the woman who God intended me to be with (and she’ll tell you God intended her to be with me), and she is a die-hard Episcopalian. Since I had originally been raised as a church-goer, I agreed to attend church with her, and we found a truly wonderful Episcopal congregation in our own neighborhood. The service is way different than any service I had attended before, which I initially thought was waaaaaaaaaay too formal … but I’ve adapted to it, and I eventually even joined the choir. Our preacher preaches Christ’s teachings (a.k.a.Love), rather than the man-made rules, regulations and by-laws of the Church, and the parish is absolutely filled with wonderful, loving people. And I truly believe that God is truly present within our congregation. I can just feel God’s Spirit … deep within my soul. And I continue to carry that Spirit within me when I leave.

  6. My experience of worship expresses God’s mission for my life most profoundly when people pass me on the way to communion and reach out to shake my hand or pat me on the shoulder–loving, in-the-moment embraces that make God’s presence real.

  7. I have always loved the liturgical component of the Episcopalian faith. I grew up in it and for many years didn’t attend services at all. But when I returned several years ago, it all came back to me and moved me profoundly. I held the red Book of Common Prayer and it felt like home to me. I still feel that way, and certain parts of the service speak to me such as Confession of Sin and The Great Thanksgiving. There is something about the ritual of saying those words and phrases every week that gives me comfort. I’m sure I could recite the whole service by memory now, and I love feeling that sense of familiarity with it. I know it would seem totally foreign to a non-Episcopalian visiting a service for the first time. But when I really listen and study those words I try to use them as a way to go out and behave in a way that reflects God’s love for me to others.

  8. I experience God in 1) the logical progression of liturgy, 2) the beauty of the words, ceremonial actions, flowers (except during Lent), and music, and 3)the grace and kindness of the participants, both clergy and laity.

  9. I am an organist, and play for services at my church. I feel as if this is an expression of God in my life. When I play, I hope that it is to Gods’ glory, and to the edification of the congregation. I hope that my playing points to Jesus, bringing him to those I play for.

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