Each Sunday in Lent we are sharing a short reflection written by Christian authors
What Lent Means to Us - Sam and Sara Hargreaves
As people who have spent the last 15 years working with church worship in its many different guises, we try to keep an eye on the latest developments. The possibilities for what to do on a Sunday morning seem endless, and the trends change all the time. One week it’s “seeker friendly”, the next it’s “intimate and heartfelt”. Or one week people are advocating the importance of hymns, then the next week we’re being sold pop/rock worship songs. Or one week it’s light-shows, the next week it’s puppets. Trying to keep up can feel exhausting!
Lent, on the other hand, suggests a different approach. For us, Lent has become a period to strip back, to go smaller, simpler and more basic. We have used the season to turn off the projector screen, give the band a break and perhaps even unplug from the PA system. We’ve used simple songs, silence, shared testimonies and ancient prayers of the church, attempting to “be still” and know God in a deeper way.
Back to the heart
What is left of our worship when we remove the organ, or the band? Can I worship without the words appearing on a screen? We might find that when we take a break from all the “outer stuff” surrounding corporate worship, we discover more of Jesus and less of ourselves. Lent offers us a breathing space to stop trying to be showy and seek a deeper relationship with God. It can remind us that the “heart of worship”, when all is stripped away, must be all about Jesus (as Matt Redman so eloquently put it).
Sustainable into Monday
If you were to allow Lent to simplify and deepen the worship that happens on a Sunday, you might also discover your devotions flow effortlessly into Monday. After all, it is a logistical nightmare to bring a worship band or a robed choir into work with you. But if you have explored the Lord’s Prayer on a Sunday morning in an engaging and meaningful way, you can then quite easily ask for God’s kingdom come and his will to be done:
at the supermarket,
and on the bus,
and in our kitchens,
and in the factory,
and on the playground,
and at the bowls club,
... as it is in heaven.
Long hymns and songs can be hard to memorise, but singing a Taize chant or a simple chorus on Sunday can give you words that stay with you whilst on the school run or cooking the dinner. Learning to listen to God in silence at church can give you tools to listen to God when in a difficult board meeting. Reflecting on a short passage of scripture can be intentionally linked with the places people are going to be sent out to in the week, their “Frontlines” where God is calling them to continue worshipping him through faithful service.
Of course, when the “fast” of Lent is over, you have the opportunity to “feast” again with a musical and creative celebration for the Easter season. It is our experience that these times are always heightened when you’ve travelled the Lent journey before them. We pray that your church’s services will inspire, equip and send your congregation out for whole lives of worship.
Sam and Sara Hargreaves run engageworship, offering training and resources for local churches. Their new book Whole Life Worship (IVP 2017) is a collaboration with the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity.
March 26th, 2017 - Posted & Written by Laura White