Repetition is Another Word for Worship

Repetition is another word for worship.

My friends in sacramental churches will know far better than this Baptist the rudimentary statements I make about worship. Rolling a stone up a hill might be easier than teaching some Baptists that worship is hard work or that’s it’s not about them but about God. If I repeat myself, see the title of this essay.

Sometimes people say they don’t like to repeat acts of worship. I understand the impulse, but I would like you to prayerfully consider a different perspective.

Jesus said that when we pray, we should pray like this: “Our Father who art in heaven.” Clear command from Jesus should be axiomatic for Baptists. We pray the Lord’s Prayer every Sunday with all the Saints across the world. Imagine praying with the saints of the ages the prayer Jesus taught us. All that repetition and yes all that power and meaning.

Baptists have an allergic reaction to creeds. We seem stuck by an old saying by a preacher who wasn’t even Baptist who said “No creed but the Bible.” And on the basis of little less, Baptists normally don’t say the Apostle’s Creed. There’s an anti-Catholic bias hiding here in a bush that does not burn. How odd of us not to affirm our faith publicly. I think that repetition would help ground us in basic Christianity.

Think about it in secular terms. As a boy, I played baseball. In order to play baseball well practice was a necessity. My dad hit fly balls — 100’s of them day after day. Practice makes perfect. Practice poorly, play poorly.

Football fans watch as their quarterback hits a wide receiver with a quick slant. It’s a timing pattern and the quarterback and receiver practice the play 1,000’s of times. Playing well requires hard work.

Worship is the product of Christians showing up, working hard, and practicing often. We can get sloppy in our worship practices if we think it doesn’t require much of us. God may get bored at chatty people who don’t work hard at worship. There’s a haunting verse in the Psalms: “God abandoned his dwelling at Shiloh.” Why? The people got lazy, spasmodic, inattentive, sloppy in worship. God wearied of their worship habits and deserted the place. God will not go where God is not welcomed.

As a Louisiana guy, I believe that eating should involve some pain to the tongue. As a teacher of Christians, I believe worship involves the pain of hard work, consistent practice, and the entire immersion of mind, heart, and body.

Worship well and work hard. Repeat often!

Check out Dr Kennedy’s Gathering Together: Baptists at Work in Worship available on Amazon.


Photo credit: Joshua Eckstein on Unsplash