Public versus private

Yes, okay, I live in Washington DC, so “public versus private” are words I hear often, but right now I am not talking about politics or organizational funding.  I’m still thinking about my “Day with John Bell” retreat from last weekend.

Right now, because I haven’t had time to listen to the recordings of the sessions again, I can’t quite sort out in my mind what he actually said from what I extrapolated from what he said.  But no matter where the words came from, I’m pretty sure the created an important thought in my soul.

What I know he said was this:  that there is public worship, and private worship, and they are not the same thing.  Now, perhaps that should seem obvious to someone such as myself, someone who has spent long hours devoted to meditation and prayer, someone who also spends long hours devoted to corporate worship.  But somehow, it wasn’t obvious until he said it.

And then I’m pretty sure that he said this too:  that frequently, that is the reason that people are disappointed with their “church” experience — they come to a public worship service expecting a totally private experience.

Now, this is where I get a little fuzzy about my source (my brain or his lecture), but the source is irrelevant to me, because no matter the origin the truth is just as strong:  churches fail when they do not clearly define public and private worship, and when they do provide support for both types of worship.  Because both public and private worship are essential to our lives as followers of Christ.

I am looking forward to next week, when I have a breather from committee work and concerts, and I can think about just what providing more support for private worship might look like…but I feel that tug on my attention that usually means I’m supposed to do something, and I know that it has something to do with making music.

Right now, though, I’m off to rehearsal.  Maybe that “other” part of me will hear the answer while I’m working and get back to me.

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