Photo: Jim Woodard - Maundy Thursday offerings at New Life
I've been talking at New Life a lot lately about worship as a spiritual practice. I believe that the ancient tradition of coming together to hear scripture read aloud, to sing and pray, is a time-tested ritual designed to bring us closer to God. It is a practice in meeting God on a schedule we do not set. "I can meet God anytime, pray anywhere," is a statement I often hear (as a reason not to attend worship). Of course. God is everywhere, and we should pray at all times. Setting aside time for communal worship is a discipline, and a gift of our time. Not just when it is convenient for us, but making that weekly ritual of thanks a priority. It is also an exercise in being part of a community of believers. The community is there for us when we need some one else to sing and pray for us, when our souls are sad or our faith is strained. And we are there when others need us to sing and pray and stand firm in faith for them.
As I've been thinking about this practice, one shift I've made is worshiping while on vacation. I know how much we gain from visitors to New Life, how much joy and encouragement they bring. So I visit our brothers and sisters in Christ, bringing greetings from our community to theirs. Often people bring me bulletins of congregations they visit on their travels - I love it!
When something comes up during our worship time on Sunday mornings (work, illness, a trip), you can also visit another worship service during the week. Below are some wonderful non-Sunday-morning options in Dripping Springs among church who are our ELCA full communion partners