“Worship is at the center of the Christian faith and though its practices might vary, there are four essential components of worship that are still found in Christian churches throughout the world today: gathering, word, meal and sending.” ELCA- Seeds Monthly, On-line newsletter.

Sure, there are many ways to worship, and every faith community has their own style, their own way of gathering, hearing the Word, sharing the meal, and being sent. In my Lutheran context, these four components give a certain flow to our Sunday morning gatherings. We find comfort in this tradition. Even though Roots of Life’s appearance (vibe) may seem progressive or contemporary to some, our worship style comes from the ancient tradition of liturgy.
When I was young, I loved to visit my Aunt Nancy’s church, St. Mary’s Catholic, in Sterling, Illinois. When I visited my cousins, we always went to their church. As I look back, I do not remember a sermon, a prayer, a song, or any words that were ever spoken to me. What I remember is the smells and the bells of high church; incense, intonations, lots of acolytes, lots of adoration, standing, sitting, kneeling all making worship seem so mysterious and heady. The sanctuary was festooned with beautiful stained glass, high high ceilings, murals, and ornate statues of Mary and Jesus. It felt safe.
The last time I visited St. Mary’s was for my Aunt’s funeral. The place was as I remembered, but this time, my heart was hurting, and this time I was listening for words that were meaningful, and for a meal that would nourish my sorrowful soul. It did not happen, the words seemed rote, and this Protestant was not invited to the meal. I went anyway, daring God to smite me. I came both as a petulant child, and as a hurting niece wanting to share in the sacrament with my whole family, Catholic.
Today, when I worship in my Lutheran community, I still get the same feelings of mystery and joy. It is not the same as my Catholic experiences, nor should I expect it to be. We, at Roots, are a low church kind of worshipping community, which means that we still gather with song and prayer but some of us are barefooted or coffee clutching. We hear the words of scripture sprinkled through song, prayer, sermon and sending. We share a meal at the altar, where ALL are welcomed, even those who question, even those who wonder, even those who seem to young to understand. Finally, we are sent with words of encouragement, and words to challenge, to “Go in peace, serve the Lord.”
Belonging to a faith community is a good thing. Yes, we can be Christian without belonging to a group, denomination, or church. We can study scripture, pray, and even donate to charitable causes in isolation. But what I know is, worshiping together is a beautiful, challenging, joy-filled, hope-filled event that is best shared with others. We come together on Sundays, in worship, to practice who we are to be the rest of the week. Worship is truly food for the journey.

Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. Isaiah 25:1