"All of life can be worship," says Jamie Robinson, pastor of worship at Autumn Ridge Church in Rochester.
Earlier this winter I had the opportunity to sit down with Robinson in his Autumn Ridge office to discuss the topic of worship. The spiritual practice of worship is last stop of our Lenten series.
Robinson, his wife and two daughters (ages 9 and 11) moved from the United Kingdom to the United States in April 2017. Prior to living in Rochester, Robinson served as a worship leader at a conference and retreat center.
It was there that he met the senior pastor of Autumn Ridge, Rev. C. John Steer, who invited him to consider a position on the church staff. Not too long after that conversation, Robinson reached out to Steer to set up an interview.
He and his family are now joyfully settled into life in Minnesota, and he finds deep value in his call as the congregation’s worship pastor.
For Robinson, "Worship is our internal response to the good news of the Gospel." That internal response can weave its way into all aspects of our lives and not just the praise and singing that happens on Sunday mornings.
"There is a danger in worship only being equated to singing," he said. "It’s more. It’s the whole time that people are together. From the gathering to the time people are leaving the building."
Some of the parts of a typical worship service include scripture, music, communion, creeds, prayers, sermon and an offering.
Robinson reflected that worship is not limited to an hour spent in a religious building on Sundays. Broadly speaking, worship is giving worth to something. Worship is whatever consumes our focus.
"Everyone is worshiping something all the time," Robinson said. Our service in the world, our work, and the way we interact with our friends and family can all be extensions of our worship.
While worship is partly individual, it can also be a collective experience.
"We were made for communion with one another," Robinson said. "When you meet with others, you get a bigger glimpse of who God is." Participation in a church family is one way of experiencing the blessings of collective worship.
Are you wondering what it might feel like to be part of a spiritual community and engage in the spiritual practice of worship? Robinson’s advice to those who haven’t worshiped for awhile is this: "Come and see. Come and experience. All of us who turn up to church … we’re all on the same level. None of us are perfect. We are all under the grace of God. We all come through the same doors. We all stand before the same God."
His refreshingly honest words are a reminder that God doesn’t require or expect our perfection. Instead, we worship just as we are, fully loved and accepted.
Worship isn’t just a space to go and confess what we already believe to be true about God. It’s also about making space to experience awe and express gratitude for the glorious mystery of it all. As we transition into Easter tomorrow, may the wonders of worship capture your spiritual imagination and fill your heart with love and peace.