In my heart of hearts, I am a vaulted-ceiling-high, and deeply unfulfilled, Anglo-Catholic.
If I could construct life exactly as I pleased like some kind of online virtual world, my Sunday worship experience would be drenched in billowing clouds of top-grade incense smoke, mellifluous Sanctus bells rung vigorously at all the right moments, Palestrina chanted by a boys choir, and two guys flanking me at all times to hold up the sleeves of my chausable, like an ecclesiastical security detail. I would own a biretta, whose headband would be worn from overuse.
There would be a great big, lovely statue of the Blessed Virgin in a small side chapel in the sanctuary, with rows and rows of votive candles that were always almost all lit.
There would be stained glass...well, pretty much like the stained glass we have now in the hospital chapel.
And everybody attending worship would make the sign of the cross and bow. A lot.
For more reasons than I can possibly enumerate, I am very glad that I cannot construct my life exactly as I please, or even to any noticeable degree as I please. L'enfer, c'est nous meme.
Like everything else in the universe, worship isn't about me, or even about me and God. It's about the incarnation of Christ in a local community of believers, with a unique history and culture and character.
So, because of the particular community I'm part of, I have to forgo the smells and bells. In return, I get wonderful, gritty reality, a family worshippping together in its own way and in the process being slowly transformed into the likeness of Christ.
I wouldn't have it any other way. Doesn't mean I don't long for all that stuff, though.
But, as spiky as I might be by temperment, I have also come to believe that the worship that we find described in the Psalms finds its truest expression in gatherings like this one:
Anyone who has really spent time chewing on words like Alleluia and Hosanna and Amen, which pretty much demand to be shouted, should be able to see the connection.
I mean, do you think that, if they had the technology, the Levites would NOT have jacked their harps into amps? Do you think they would not turn cartwheels if somebody set up a drum kit in the tabernacle? Do you think they didn't have their hands in the air when, for example, they sang this:
Praise the LORD! Hallelu Yah!
Praise God in his sanctuary!
Praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his acts of power!
Praise him for his surpassing greatness!
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet!
Praise him with the harp and lyre!
Praise him with timbrel and dancing!
Praise him with the strings and pipe!
Praise him with the clash of cymbals!
Praise him with resounding cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Hallelu Yah!
Praise the LORD with the electric guitar and keyboard and drums and sound system.
It is not really my cup of tea. It is so unseemly, and so biblical.