Monday, 7 July 2008

Participating and spectating

We recently spent a couple of nights in Durham (far too short!). Durham is a wonderful place, which has never failed to inspire and delight me/us.

As ever we visited the magnificent cathedral. Access to part of it was restricted as they were preparing for Evensong, which is fair enough - it is a working church after all. We wandered around the unrestricted bit, then headed to the cafeteria for a cup of tea and a wee cake (very nice).

When we went back into the cathedral, Evensong had started. The choir were singing and there was a small group of people at the back of the cathedral listening, so I joined them. I don't know what the choir were singing, but it was polished and clear and wonderful to listen to ... but then I realised that I was a spectator at a performance rather than a participant in an act of worship.

This was a real contrast to our visit to St Nic's in the Market Place on Sunday morning. The service wasn't polished, the music was competent but not brilliant - but the atmosphere was warm and a sense of worship and togetherness filled the place.

What's the difference? It was nothing to do with the cathedral, and everything to do with me. I didn't go to the cathedral expecting to be part of a church service, and I didn't adjust my mindset when I was inside either. The difference is about 'coming expectantly' and offering ourselves in worship - participating not just spectating.

1 comment:

lucy said...

i understand the concept of 'coming expectantly' but i also know there have been times when i did that and things felt very flat. other times when i was not expecting anything i have been totally surprised by the spirit :-) often times my 'expecting' gets in the way and rather 'accepting' what is can hold more in the way of blessing. 'participating' definitely seems to be the key here...maybe it just looks different at different times?

peace :-)