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How can we worship with all our senses?

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Glenn
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The body is just a part of the soul blessed with five senses. 

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(@ron-jessop)
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A way of approaching the question of worship with our wholebody is to think of using our five senses.

The following examples may help open up our thinking on this.

Hearing: listening to sermons/homilies, music, testimonies of fellow believers.

Smell: incense,

Touch: holding the communion elements of bread and wineglasses/chalice, the warmth of a handshake or appropriate greeting of a hug.

Sight: the cross, stained-glass windows, candles burning, colours of the particular church season, choir vestments, palm leaves (Palm Sunday), Advent decorations,

Taste: communion wine, the food at morning tea or gatherings for fellowship.

 

Some questions:

(i) In what way(s) have the use of your senses enhanced your worship?
(ii) What creative ways may enhance your worship? Go ahead and think wildly here.
(iii) What may need to change or be introduced to help us in use all our senses?

 

 

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The article below identifies 9 different ways that people connect with God.

The second pathway relates to the senses, and is relevant to our topic.

 

However, if we were to broaden our discussion from the use of our senses to our whole body, for example, the   physical (arms, legs) our mind and emotions, this article is very helpful in providing a rich array of ideas.

For example, under the topic Naturalists, it gives examples of walking through a park ( physical) and Intellectuals of systematically studying Scripture (the mind). 

 

Spiritual Styles: The Nine Sacred Pathways | Vineyard Church Ann Arbor (annarborvineyard.org)

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I'd like to look at the segment in the nine pathways to God in a little more detail. I've pasted it below.

Personally, I find the use of art helpful. In my personal devotions I will occasionally draw how I am feeling in my soul (mind, emotion etc) and relationship with God. The use of colour is significant here. Grays and blacks appear when feelings of depression or burden are felt. Yellow and vibrant colours such as red, orange and light green express life, hope and energy. 

Another expression of colour and art that nourishes me are banners in churches. I've often been touched by and paused to 'take in' the message and colour of banners and other visual prompts. For example, recently I had that experience while at St.Pauls cathedral in the city (Melb), when I stopped to look at a huge balloon type structure depicting the earth which was hanging at the front of the church. 

2. Sensates: Loving God with the Senses

Sensates are moved more by a sensuous worship experience than by anything else. By sensuous we are referring to the five senses: taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight.   When we embrace the use of the senses— which God created, after all—we open up entirely new avenues of worship.   God created our senses, enjoyment through the senses was his idea. Sensates experience God in concrete, visible, palpable symbols. They see God in beauty, are creative and artistic and enjoy God’s creation.

Spiritual Practices

Celebration

Celebration is a way of engaging in actions that orient the spirit toward worship, praise and thanksgiving

  • Pursuing activities that bring the heart deep gladness and reveling in them before the Lord including: spending time with others, sharing meals, working, serving, worshiping, laughing, listening to music, dancing.
  • Enjoying every good and perfect gift as coming from God.
  • Cultivating a spirit of gladness.
  • Taking yourself less seriously.
  • Having holiday traditions that guide your celebration.
  • Seek out church worship and social events.

Join in the regularly scheduled “Night of Worship” events hosted by the Vineyard, led by Shaun Garth Walker once a month.

Praying in color

  • Getting prayerfully creative and using doodles, color, words, pictures as a way of expressing what is in your heart and seeking connection with God
  • It is a visual, concrete and lasting way to pray
  • It is useful if there are no words for prayer
  • The Vineyard church has coloring books and pencils available to pray in color, they can be found in binders on the stand with the sermon handouts and bibles.

More resources on praying in color can be found at: www.prayingincolor.com

Holy Communion

The Lord’s Supper celebrates God’s redemptive plan through the sacrificial death of Jesus. Through this meal of bread and wine (or grape juice) we join ourselves to Christ and feed on him in our hearts through faith. Includes:

  • Partaking of Christ’s body and blood in the sacrament of communion engages the senses.
  • Keeping company with Jesus no matter what happens and having nourishment for the journey.
  • Developing a deeper love for Jesus.
  • More fully appreciating Jesus’ sacrificial love for you.
  • Appreciating the diversity of the other believers who take of the Lord’s Supper with you.
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Glenn
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Bodily movement could be increased by bringing back the traditions of kneeling for prayer and crossing oneself. Crossing oneself has a two-fold purpose: to remind one of one's baptism and the commitment that we are making to Christ and to also reminds us that one is entering a sacred place that is set apart from the world outside. We are told to kneel, O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! – Psalm 95:6 and "At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bend.” – Philippians 2:10

In my church there are a minority that kneel and sign themselves, generally the same people, and from the stand point of a fidgety person I see merit. It boosts participation and gives a role to play out. Stand to praise through hymns and proclaim our beliefs when reciting the creeds. Sit to receive the word of God through readings and the sermon. Kneel to pray, except for the Lord's prayer for some reason that doesn't make sense to me as are standing. Signing the cross when entering, before and/or after the gospel, taking communion or whenever the mood take you.

When taking communion I have gone from standing to kneeling and I prefer to kneel as it does feel more reverential it also allows you to linger as you don't have quickly get out the way to let the next person in. I also knelt to pray during the last service and it was good in the reverential feeling but also in using the whole body to break up the service.  

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@glenn-ambrose 

Yes, kneeling and crossing oneself can be helpful. I'd add that kneeling can be broader than just for prayer. It can be as an act of worship (eg when singing), contrition, and yieldedness to God.

 

 

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Glenn
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Sola scriptura (Scripture alone) Phillip Hansen likes to say that a service is scripture spoken and taught (1 Timothy 4:13). That scripture gets mixed in with ritual isn't to lessen it but to enhance it. The ritual of the service allows the congregation to engage with the whole body and not just the mind. 
(I think I got the following objections from Wikipedia)
Those who oppose ritualism in the church have generally argued that it:
1. Encourages idolatry in that it encourages worshippers to focus on ritual objects and actions rather than the things they are meant to symbolise;
Answer: Teach what they symbolise.
2. Constitutes an attempt to make Protestant churches more Catholic;
Answer: Protestantism is a theology not necessarily how we perform the service.
3. Constitutes a downgrading of the significance of preaching and biblical exposition in regular Christian worship;
Answer: If the service was just about teaching, church would look more like school. Ritual ties us in to a tradition that has history.
4. Encourages an idolatrous attitude to the Eucharist because ritualism is predicated on a belief in the Real Presence;
Answer: It is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the elements that is being worshipped not the elements themselves. Or from a more protestant view, the ritual is there to help us remember as Jesus told us to do. Same as a dawn service on ANZAC day.
5. Uses excessive elaborations in worship that cannot be justified on the basis of the descriptions of worship in the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, or the Epistles in the New Testament – the robes used in the worship of heaven described in the Book of Revelation are plain white;
Answer: I would concede this point, the vestments in some churches go too far in my eyes but the important point is that the clergy has a uniform that separates them from the ordinary. When in the uniform they are a representative of God in the same way that a police uniform or a judges wig and gown separate these people from their personal identities to be now representatives of the state.
6. Undermines a key Protestant belief that no human actions, even worship precisely and carefully offered, can be of any value when it comes to being justified in the eyes of God: worship should be an unfussy, obedient, penitent, grateful, and spontaneously joyful response to the experience of being saved by faith alone in Jesus – ritual and tradition are merely human inventions;
Answer: Ritual and tradition are not human inventions but are repeatedly mentioned in the bible. What is Baptism but a bible instructed ritual and tradition? The idea of ritual is not justification by works and is never intended to imply that, the purpose is simply help bring the congregation together in prayer experience. Ritual and tradition has appeared around the world because it is so powerful at doing this.
7. Has often impeded the understanding of the gospel by wrapping up Christian worship in indecipherable symbolic acts.
Answer: Decipher the symbolic acts beforehand.
8. Is not beautiful as proponents claim but rather gaudy and distracting from contemplative worship
Answer: No, it is. If someone says something is beautiful then for that person it is. We have been practising these rituals in various modified forms for thousands of years. People like it and they want it. It also connects people through their actions to a history that spans millennia. Some of the liturgy was spoken by Jesus in the temple.

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@glenn-ambrose 

Mmm, it's interesting looking through a lens of objections, and responding to such. I agree Glenn with your answers to points 1, 3, and 7. I'd like to push the conversation broader than ritual though. In my first post in this topic (see above) I list the 5 senses and give examples. Many of those I have personally experienced and had my experience of worship enhanced by them.  

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