Elizabeth Scalia wrote a piece at First Things almost two weeks ago about the dissatisfaction of many older Catholics with mass as it is often celebrated these days.
My son is on the leadership team at church reading over the comments people have about what we should be looking for in a worship pastor - unable to contain themselves to that question and leaking out into what they want in worship itself (More projections screens! No projection screens! Newer music! Older music!)
Our Bible study friends, who came up in a particular era of evangelicalism, used the term worship to mean "an extended time of praise songs interspersed with extemporaneous prayer," which was always jarring to me, who uses it to mean the entirety of the Sunday service, and even something outside that.
Hearkening back to last night's conversation with our young friends (previous posts), they described preferences and we rolled over other possibilities - eastern orthodox rites, full-volume contemporary, emerging church.
I have recently come to the opinion that our desired worship style is more a heart language, a mother tonge, which we cannot easily change. We might intellectually assent that other forms are just as valid, but they just don't do it for us in practice. They don't work for us as well. This may be our childhood experience, our post-conversion form of worship, or one we have been in longest, but it is what our heart desires, and we think, our surest way to experience God. It is not absolutely immutable, but it resists modification.
Whether any of us thinks that is a healthy thing or not, I believe it is a reality of worship, and we might all do better if we recognised that our preference is deep-seated and works for us but not necessarily superior thereby. Also, that those others are not just being obstinate and unwilling to see that we would find our way much better if they would only give it an honest try, but on exactly the same footing.
I have noted from time-to-time that I seldom find worship all that emotionally moving anyway. I think it is because I don't have a mother tongue of worship, a favorite heart language that reaches to my depths. I have a collection of different worship experiences which are just fine but not exciting. Looking over my mixed worship history, it is hardly surprising. What would be surprising, in fact, is if I did have some form that really tripped my trigger.
On the other hand, there's some significant advantage in that. There aren't any forms of Christian worship that don't work at least somewhat for me. I don't get much of Quaker silence, and I desire it; I don't get much regular liturgy and I miss it; I like things quite raucous and contemporary at times - much more contemporary than our 1990 version at BCC, in fact; I like black churches, eastern churches. Pound-it-out late 19th C camp meeting I've had about enough of, but I don't need to avoid it, especially.
For me it's like a filling station. Some of them have conveniences stores, some don't; some have a Dunkin's, some will pump for you, they bear different brands, they are easier or harder to get to, less expensive or more, with carwash or air or not. It doesn't much matter to me. The car needs gas - this will do.
I can get taken out of worship by people doing some part of it very badly. I don't mean music poorly performed, but arrogantly, force-feeding a congregation what the worship team knows is good for it; or congregations clearly congratulating themselves on how right their worship is - not like those other ignorant people who aren't spirit-filled or whatever. It takes me a while to get past that. But if congregations just innocently do what they do because that's who they are, I find I can enter in to that pretty easily.