Culture At Large

Worship on Vacation

Steven Koster

We recently had a poll roundup on worshiping during the summer months or while on vacation.

It might be a more interesting conversation to talk about WHY or WHY NOT we choose to attend corporate worship during our more leisurely weeks.

In my youth, my family always sought out a local church or service when on vacation. I remember worshiping in national parks, for example, or at the random Presbyterian or Baptist church on the corner because it was there.

If I was cynical. I might say we did it out of a sense of duty, or as a "mere" ritual. It did rather feel that way as a kid.

But now I would use different language at least, and call it a spiritual discipline. We worshiped with a gathering of believers each and every week (preferably twice) because that was a key part of how we were discipled in faith, and not least, part of how my parents were working to form faith in us as children.

Was that frequency mandatory? No, probably not. But it was a way in which my parents demonstrated concretely that faith was a central part of who we were. Faith is not a self-improvement process and there is no vacation from God. We were shaped by the Story of God and by belonging to God's people, not the other way around. And that pattern remains fairly ingrained in me.

So I affirm that belonging and worshiping with the Body of Christ is part of the fabric of what it means to be a disciplined apprentice of Christ. It can be messy and inconvenient often enough at home, much less on vacation. And often enough I've failed at it. But I affirm it's a good discipline.

I would also suggest a bit of worshiping tourism. Sometimes, I like to worship with folks from my own faith tradition in far away places, just to experience the solidarity of the church. It's a joy to sing with those with whom there's clear communion.

But I also like to worship with folks of other traditions, maybe with a raucous revival meeting or a pomp-and-circumstance high-church liturgy. Maybe it's even in a different language than mine. Experiencing 'exotic' worship is not only interesting, it's a way to remind myself that my usual worship isn't the only way the universal church encounters God as a body. What a great reminder that the church is called from all nations and tribes.

Yet there have been days when private or family worship was more appropriate. Not because it's a vacation from God, but it seemed the most God-honoring thing to do.

Currently, I'm driving across a good chunk of North America for a classic family vacation. I'm eager to see how I'll encounter not only fascinating corners of God's creation, but also fascinating branches grafted into the one true vine, a most strage and marvelous tree.

Topics: Culture At Large, Arts & Leisure, Entertainment, Theology & The Church, Faith, Worship, Christmas & Easter, Home & Family, Family