Carol Penner is the author of Every Day Worship, the Mennonite Women USA 2018 Bible Study Guide. Every Day Worship will be available for purchase beginning in June 2018.
Worship is inspiring. Take last Sunday; even as I walked towards the church building, I could hear the music floating through the windows, calling me. As I slipped into my seat, I saw the whole congregation gathered. There was something there as we waited for the presence of God together.
Throughout that service, I felt emotion welling up in me at different points, something deep was being touched. The welcome from the worship leader, the scripture that told us about Jesus, hearing the voices around me singing in parts, the story the preacher told, the sharing time, the prayer where we asked God to help us. And the benediction that told us to go in peace.
Christians go to worship together regularly, we worship individually all the time. It’s part of what being a Christian is all about. But we don’t think about worship very often or how worship shapes our lives. That’s why I decided to write this year’s Bible study guide on the topic of worship.
I decided to explore the biblical roots of each part of the worship service: the call to worship, the offering, the sermon, the prayer, the benediction. These aren’t things we just do on Sundays, they are a part of the way we live our lives. We worship in little ways every day as we live our lives with God. That’s why we decided to call this bible study guide Every Day Worship.
Worship is something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about because I was a pastor for 15 years, so I was in charge of planning worship. Now I teach at university and help prepare pastors for ministry.
One of the things I do in my spare time is write a blog of worship resources; leadinginworship.com. So many people lead worship in Mennonite services, and it’s hard sometimes to think about what to say. I hope that my blog can be a place where people go to get ideas about prayers and words for worship.
On Twitter I also send out little micro-prayers almost every day, just a little 160 character message to God. (@carol_penner) Sometimes the prayers come out of my life, sometimes they respond to something in the news. I tweet and blog because I see worship as central to who I am, to who we are.
In this year’s Bible Study Guide you’ll find a lot of prayers, praying to God is central to what we will do together
As I talk to young people, I’ve heard them say that worship is empty or feels dead to them. It feels like a ritual that doesn’t always have that much meaning. Even in my life, sometimes worship has felt as boring as cement. But worship can be vital, it can be life-giving, it can be life-changing.
I hope this Bible Study Guide shakes things up. I hope that as women gather and talk together, they’ll think twice about why we do what we do. And they’ll open their eyes to the powerful ways God is shaping us through worship. How are we becoming the people of God through the practice of worship? What is God planning to do next?
I found that even in writing about worship, I was changed. It led me to really consider the deep wells of meaning in scripture, and how the biblical voices invite us to worship God every day!
I hope you find this year’s Bible Study Guide energizing for your community. Worship is one of the important ways we do mission, sharing the love of God every day.
(If you are interested in hearing my voice, I was interviewed on a MennoNerds podcast, which you can access here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpCfZWwdKKA)
Carol Penner lives with her husband Eugene in Vineland, Ontario, in a house surrounded by apricot trees. She worked for fifteen years as a pastor in Ontario and Alberta. She is currently assistant professor of theological studies at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario, where she teaches practical theology. She writes worship resources and shares them on her worship blog www.leadinginworship.com. In her spare time she likes to hike on the Bruce Trail, read novels, and do anything crafty.