I have been in a period of over five years in which I have had little or no (perceived) joy in worship. There have been oases, but I have had a "dry mind in a dry season, my headpiece filled with straw." (Without googling, does anyone recognize the quote?)
Being deeply New England Congregationalist and Swedish Lutheran by heritage, I have never been much of an enthusiast in worship anyway, except that I like to hoom-boom the bass notes of introductions and preludes or drum with my fingers on the pew in front of me. Not having exciting, moving worship is fairly normal for me. Others may look at pentecostals with mild to intense disdain or envy. I am merely puzzled.
I can also bring up - I do not say manufacture - energy for worship leading for two related reasons. One, I declare what I know to be the eternal reality, even if I cannot feel it at present. Two, it's my job, and the needs of the worship community trump my own feelings. Happily, that has in itself been a source of oases in this desert, and I have often left worship grinning wryly at God's humor with me, bringing out unsuspected joy in my driest times.
It's not so bad, really. I have a narrative that I believe, anyway, about how this has occurred. Also, I expect that this state of affairs is normative at some place in a Christian life - and for some poor bastards, almost lifelong. Given my heritage, it would be hard to tell the difference anyway. A wise friend, who I told about this ongoing lack of joy, asked "What do you expect it to look like when it's fixed?" Great question.
But five years was getting to be a long time. The other parts of my life went on their usual courses, sometimes more cheery and energetic, sometimes less. Worshipping away from my home congregation was often interesting, but didn't change things. Times of prayer, reflection, fellowship, or study were as likely as ever to bring happiness.
It is usually wise in such situations to consider the possibility that you are doing something wrong, locking the door against God in one area. I tried various remedies, thought about it, asked advice. No worse, no better. Ah well. Until this summer I still expected there was something I was supposed to discover, some key to turn the lock. And I admit, it may have still been of my own doing, and Jesus is simply releasing me from my own foolishness to attempt a new way to teach me something.
But the ice is breaking up, and I have no ready explanation for it. Even a few weeks ago, when we went on serious metaphor overload in worship about "being sheep" and pastures and fences and the whole lot inserted into nearly everything, it didn't drag me down. The accidents of worship, as Aristotle might call them, seldom have much effect on me.
When folks give testimonies or write little encouraging articles for Christian magazines they usually identify some lesson that they learned through all this that made it all worthwhile and improved their walk. If that's the case here, it will have to be something that I see only in retrospect, because I don't have a clue why the thaw has started, or where any of it is going. It just is.