You’ve probably heard someone say, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.” They might apply the saying to music, cars, or cooking. Maybe you’ve even said it yourself.
Lately, I’ve been saying it about worship.
I’ve probably had more experience of worship than most lay people. Since I was a child, I’ve attended worship services pretty much every week.
As a journalist writing about religion, I’ve attended worship in Africa, India, and South America – places where I understood not a single word said or sung. I’ve worshipped in big churches and small churches, in affluent churches and struggling churches, in churches with long-term clergy and in churches with no professional leadership at all.
I’ve shared the Eucharist with 5,000 at a World Council of Churches Assembly. And I’ve sat with six strangers on wooden benches in a converted garage where a lay preacher harangued me about hell and the woman next to me sounded as if she might be having an orgasm.
I’ve heard a lot of sermons. Some were brilliant. Others — to quote my friend Ralph Milton — “barely dribbled over the edge of the pulpit before expiring on the floor.”
But worship is more than a sermon.