When we worship, we can’t help but be changed. Br. James Koester discusses some of the moments in worship that have most changed him and urges us to “go” out into the world from our worship and bring the change with us.
Transcript: I think it’s true to say that if you asked different brothers in the community why they came to the community, we would all give you slightly different answers. But there would be one answer that we all share in common, and that is we came here to the monastery so that we can spend our time, or spend the majority of our time, in worship. I think for us as brothers in the community, worship is one of the central identifying marks of our life. We have come here so that we can worship God. And worship is really central to our understanding of our self, and how we participate in God’s mission.
One of the things that we say in our rule is that our mission is inseparable from our call to live in union with God in prayer, worship, and mutual love. So for us as brothers in the community, our understanding of the mission of God begins with worship, and who we are, and who we become through the act of worship.
There are a number of little key moments for me in our worship, which I think change us, and transform us. One of those moments in the Eucharist, which change us, is the exchange of the peace – where, day by day by day, we say to one another, “Peace be with you,” or, “God’s peace be with you.” And living as closely as we do with one another, there are many, many days where I actually would rather punch somebody out than exchange the peace with them. That being forced day after day after day to exchange the peace with brother X – who I am bearing a grudge, or who I have had an argument with – actually begins to change my relationship with them so that I actually do begin to wish them God’s peace.
Another key moment for me is hearing and doing the words “Take, eat,” or “Drink this,” as we come to feast on Christ in the Eucharist. And that constant feeding on Christ in the Eucharist changes us. But for me the word that I get teased for the most because of how I say it when I’m presiding at the Eucharist is the word “go.” And I often put the emphasis, I put a strong emphasis, on the word “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord,” and the brothers tease me about this. But I think that word is really significant because if we come to worship, we can’t help but be changed by worship, and then we are sent out. We are sent out on God’s mission into the world.
So I think it’s safe to say our understanding of our participation in the mission of the God is that it begins for us in worship, and it’s from worship that we are sent out to do God’s work, and participate in God’s mission. And so, for us, we cannot separate our participation in the mission of God from our worship of God day by day in the Eucharist. So one thing you might want to reflect on as you leave the Eucharist this week is how are you going to be God’s hands in the world today.
– Br. James Koester
Question: How are you going to be God’s hands in the world today?
Slowly writing out our words of love for another person can be a meditative practice that connects us in a deep way. This week, spend some time hand-writing a letter to God. What would you say? How might you express your love for God in words?