Like many, there was a time when I wondered just how boring heaven is going to be ... just one long worship service! Kids of a certain generation, in particular, had I think the sense that the unengaging services we sat through held some kind of eternal threat for us. Is that really what we had to look forward to?
(An interesting sidelight observation: To the extent that children ever actually thought this way ... or was it really just me? ... there was an interesting connection being made, that somehow our weekly worship supposedly modeled the heavenly. Which, I think it can be argued, it ought to be - or at least we ought at least to be conscious of heavenly worship when we are gathered "here below." The Orthodox aspire to this intentionally. I think we can get there in any tradition.)
Aging, if not actually maturing, I have a deeper sense of what might just possibly be in store in the eschaton, the new heavens and new earth, the new creation which we are experiencing now only vaguely, in fits and starts. Cities and rivers and fruit trees and seasons and feasting ... it boggles the mind, in a way I wish I had known enough 20 years ago, to begin to instill into my own children's imagination. I pray they are gettting that at some level anyway.
Today (and I really mean, today, 17 August 2009) the notion of a never-ending "worship" service is more appealing than ever. Yesterday at College Church was timed to the minute, and I spent the day fretting over hitting all the marks. In a church already pretty uptight about the clock, we wound it up pretty tight and put every staff person on alert as to their responsiblity to "make the services come in on time." I was a wreck. We made it, morning and evening, but am I glad we don't live like this every week.
I could never function in a church tied to a television or radio broadcast. I've seen the service outlines for some of these churches, with their cues and time-lines. No thanks. It's bad enough just trying to make a 3-service morning work without mobs forming in the narthex and parking lot, as people go and come.
So I am adding this to the arguments for a single-service congregation: let us relax, focus, and breathe as we are likely to in heaven.