Mar 01, 2019Worship Opportunities Are All Around Us

Worship Opportunities Are All Around Us

Part four on Deepening Your Relationship with God by Worshiping with Other Faiths.

Carolyn B Thompson Eight-minute read.   Resources
The Cross on Lake Kanuga, at Kanuga Conference Center.
The Cross at Lake Kanuga. Image credit: Gary Allman

You don’t have to go to different churches or different faith traditions every week like I do to take advantage of the worship opportunities around you. You just have to be open so you see what God is presenting to you.

In case you haven’t seen the earlier articles – my journey began over two years ago with a calling to go to a different place of worship each week with the objective of being able to feel/see God no matter where I was.

I’m pretty sure I’d not have seen any of the things below as opportunities for worship, much less taken advantage of them as such had I not gotten to this point in my “feel/see God no matter where I am” journey. I’ve definitely been similar situations before, but never saw them as worship opportunities — nuisances, work for the Kingdom — but not worship opportunities.

The notion that worship opportunities are everywhere came to me at midnight one night when I stopped at a huge grocery store on my way home from a trip.

It was actually 11:50 p.m. when the conversation started. I was trying to get a sale price (that ended at midnight) on an item, so I rushed to the cashier (there was only one checkout open at that time of night) to hurry it through, knowing that the computer knew what time it was and would not give me the sale price if I didn’t get it rung up before the stroke of midnight. When he rang it it came up at the regular price. I told him I knew I was close but it still wasn’t midnight so it should be the price in the sale paper.

Of course it turns out that cashiering wasn’t his regular role in the store, he was helping out at this late hour and a manager would be the only one who could fix this quick enough to meet the midnight deadline. After he called for a manager, we waited, and 10 minutes later (now past midnight) no one had arrived. He apologized profusely and just tried to figure out a way he could get the computerized cash register give me the sale price. I’m pretty sure his jury rig made a mess out of some system but he was adamant that he should take care of this for me. I was certainly grateful, even thought it was now 12:30 a.m. and I had been up since 8:00 a.m. in a day that included eight hours of driving.

After everything was packed in the grocery bag he asked me if I lived in town and, a little irritated (I wanted to go home, not have a conversation), I said that I was about 30 minutes away. He then told me he used to work at Culvers, plus he’s a minister. I asked him where and he said he travels. I said that was pretty common around here with church’s too small to support a full-time minister and not enough ministers to go around. “Oh, my ministry travels,” he said. And he told me all about the places he drives his truck to, to minister to people. Why a truck? – because he carries a huge wooden cross in the truck bed. He arrives in various towns, parks, takes out his cross, hoists it onto his shoulder and walks around town.

The pre-journey me would absolutely be not engaging him, trying to get away, even not really believing him, thinking what the authorities must think of this, etc. But, to my own surprise, I realized as I left the store, that I had listened, I had asked questions, I had given suggestions for other places where his ministry would help people. My first thoughts weren’t of shock for how I’d acted but I immediately thought, “worship opportunities are all around us – I wish I’d seen this man carrying a huge wooden cross down the street as I would have been able to worship the God who gave His Son so I could be free”.

Over the next few days I thought a lot about that worship opportunity and many more that have been presented to me but I’d missed. I won’t miss them from now on. As you look at the list below and add more of your own, note that seeing something isn’t the worship opportunity.

Seeing something is just recognizing a nice or thought-provoking thing. It’s taking the thing you see hear, or feel as an opportunity to worship our Father – to tell God how mighty God is, to thank God, to ask God for forgiveness, or to ask for intercession for others or yourself, that is what makes it worship.

Worship Opportunities

Here’s the list of worship opportunities I’ve thought of so far. Add more to it in the comments below so we all can have more opportunities to worship God:

  • Crosses that people put on roads at the site of a car accident.
  • People standing on the street proselytizing, or Mormons on their mission coming to your home to talk with you, or other organized religious groups visiting door to door.
  • Sunrises, sunsets, mountains, huge open spaces.
  • Christian radio talk shows, music and church services on the web or traditional radio.
  • Church signs with quotes, for example: “The fact that there’s a highway to hell and only a stairway to heaven says a lot about anticipated traffic numbers”.
  • Cursillo and other organized retreats — I was invited to one for Christian business women and in answering one of the questions and hearing other’s answers and stories we realized that we just heard 23 great sermons.
  • Get-togethers that aren’t even overtly Christian. At an annual Christmas brunch with dear friends each of us told “the most important thing we’d learned that year” — we heard “have to stop being so concerned about leadership in the US as it’s tearing me up”; “our book group read White Fragility and I realized I wasn’t understanding how privileged I am, even though I didn’t set out to be”; “I am polar opposites – I work unceasingly or procrastinate”; “kindness never goes out of style”; “I care too much about what others think and should be concerned with what Jesus thinks”; “You don’t know what you don’t know because you don’t know”; “I didn’t really believe God would take care of me no matter what – if you asked me I’d have told you that I believed – but this year’s proposal and marriage showed me I didn’t believe – now I’m changed” — all very impactful material for worshipping our God.
  • Church work — we’re usually so focused on cooking the meal, organizing the children for the pageant, gathering the mittens – that we miss the worship in it.
  • Even prayer as part of choir rehearsal and vestry meetings. Again, we usually are so focused on the event at hand that we do this more by rote and miss the worship opportunity.

I can’t wait to see how this list grows as we all look for worship opportunities in our day to days lives!

Carolyn B Thompson is a cradle Episcopalian with an unquenchable thirst for more relationship with her beloved Father.


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3 thoughts on “Worship Opportunities Are All Around Us”

  1. Thank you, Carolyn, for opening my mind and heart to the realization that whenever I volunteer that is a worship opportunity: an opportunity to praise God, to thank God, to serve God by serving others.

  2. Mary Jo Burfeind

    Carolyn your worship articles are a delight and a revelation! So well written, so approachable and non-preachy. Thank you for sharing them with me.

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