On the tiny island of Iona off the West coast of Scotland if you wait long enough, the world will cross your path. Once while sitting on a bus, waiting to return to the island from my day off, I saw students from my home town who were there with their seminary. So it comes as no surprise that on this tiny island, a group of monks of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition came to perform their dances and praise rituals.
It was certainly not contemporary worship. And it was absolutely nothing that I was familiar with. There were bellowing horns. They danced in heavy costumed, with exaggerated masks. There was some very interesting “chanting”, which might be better described as deep throated moaning. And as odd as each presentation was, it was a part of praise related to their faith practice. For those of us attending who were not Buddhist, it was a historic, artistic gathering, not a worship experience. But it was clear to us that this had a different, deeper meaning for them.
I wonder if the same can be said for us. If an outsider came to observe us in worship would they realize it had a deeper meaning as we offered our praise? Would observers find it rote and boring or fresh and exhilarating? If our worship is in fact to praise God, is that what it would look like to those on the outside? Could we take it on the road to a small remote place and have people’s attention at our worship?
We have the chance, if our praise is genuine, to create thin places.