A portion of the prayers for Sunday ask God that we might receive such a blessing through our worship that the week ahead might be spent in God’s favor. That raises some interesting questions. If such a wonderful blessing is to be received through worship, what is the nature of that worship? For that matter, what exactly is worship? Common wisdom in Protestant thinking heavily influenced by Calvin holds that nothing we have done, are doing, or ever will do can be ‘good’ in God’s sight, so is it even possible to spend a week in God’s favor? What would such a week be like? How would it be different from other weeks you and I have experienced?
For me, worship means to participate with God in the love of God that can surround and fill us. The Sunday rituals of the Episcopal Church are holy vessels that can carry me, in the company of others, into communion with God in Christ Jesus leading to the intimacy of sharing with Christ in the Holy Communion of the bread and wine in which he is truly present. I said can, not will, because I’m not always fully and intentionally present to all that God offers through worship. I let little inconveniences and minor distractions get in the way. Fortunately, God is fully present even when I am not, and that makes a difference. But there remains one more obstacle to worship. The moment our rituals cease to be holy vessels carrying us into communion with God, the moment that they become the object of worship, we have fallen into idolatry, and that can sometimes be an easy thing to do.
But moving on; when Peter and the other disciples wondered about the obvious impossibility of living up to God’s standards, Jesus reminded them that through God all things were possible. Bathed in God’s blessings, and contrary to popular Calvinism, I believe it is entirely possible to act in such a way as to spend time in God’s favor, and that it is engagement in worship through which such bathing may come. I believe that I have been blessed to spend parts of some weeks in God’s favor: sometimes only a few moments, occasionally an hour or two. I have yet to discover what it would be like to spend an entire week in God’s favor. If I ever do I imagine that I will be so transformed that not a soul will recognize me. Indeed, I may not recognize myself, and that’s a bit scary. Our various flaws, insecurities, delusions and eccentricities give us more than a little of our character and identity. Living an entire week in the fulness of God’s love by loving every single other creature as Christ has loved them would do some serious damage to my customary and recognizable behavior. Think about it. May you be bathed in God’s blessings this week and experience what it is to spend time in God’s favor.