The Christian life is one of constantly receiving and returning, and from this exchange we are deeply formed. One touchpoint where we encounter this exchange is in places of corporate worship. In Matt Kaemingk’s most recent book, Work and Worship: Reconnecting Our Labor and Liturgy, Kaemingk discusses the concept of bringing to the communion table all that has formed us in the course of a week.
For many, this task is easier said than done. In fact, some of us have been told to do the exact opposite. We have been encouraged to leave the world at the door of Sunday worship and “come simply be in the presence of God.” However, this line of thought has harmful implications. It implies that God is not in the world. It implies that God’s presence is limited to a certain place, time, and emotional state. This notion could not be further from the truth. In Work and Worship, Kaemingk encourages worship leaders and congregants alike to bring forth all that the work week has caused to bubble up inside of them. He draws from Nicholas Wolterstorff to identify five tools that can help worshipers articulate their stories to God. He refers to these as trumpets, ashes, tears, petitions, and fruits.
- Trumpets: victories for which we are offering up praise. These could be hard conversations, struggles, or addictions that have been overcome in the course of the week.
- Ashes: confessions of brokenness within our work, the world around us, and within ourselves. Another word for confession is repentance and it is simply the recognition of the wrong that has been done and asking for forgiveness.
- Tears: laments and heartbreaks that surround our work. Tears could include things that we recognize are outside of our control or our fervent desire for all things to be made new.
- Petitions: requests and intercessions we ask of God on behalf of our work. To intercede on behalf of our co-workers, bosses, and organizations is an act of love and humility.
- Fruits: offerings we generously give on behalf of our work. These can be seen as tithes of time and money as well as a recognition and gratitude for the skills and relationships that come out of our places of work.
All of these reflection tools should call to mind and stir up in our hearts the awareness of the presence and work of Christ that surrounded us in the course of our week. There is no better place to engage these emotions than with a community of believers, people who are able to share in your experiences, listen, pray, and encourage you in the work you are doing in the world. These experiences remind us that God sees and knows the hardships, frustrations, joys, and victories that accompany work because he himself is in the work of restoration and redemption. He is present in the laboring. He gives and gives and gives of himself.
As All Sons and Daughters puts it in their song “Christ Be All Around Me,”
“As I wait, heart of God
Satisfy and sustain.
As I hear, voice of God
Lead me on, be my guide.
Be my guide
Above and below me,
before and behind me,
In every eye that sees me
Christ be all around me”.
What do these trumpets, ashes, tears, petitions, and fruits look like in your work? What would it be like to incorporate these as part of your Sunday worship? Matthew Kaemingk joins us in June to explore these ideas more at Work + Worship.
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This post was published June 3, 2021
Catherine serves as Denver Institute’s marketing and events coordinator. Prior to joining DIFW, Catherine worked in nonprofit ministry, editorial, event planning, and media production, and served as an events intern with Denver Institute for two years. She graduated from Colorado Christian University with a bachelor of arts in global studies and a minor in mass media. Catherine enjoys traveling and experiencing new cultures; of the places she has been, Italy, China, and Scotland are among her favorites.