In a recent post on his Prietly Goth blog, Larry Kamphausen offered a lengthy reflection on the relationship between intimacy and liturgy and asked if the purpose of liturgy is intimacy with God. It's important, he suggests, but not the purpose of worship. He wrote, "I don’t mean to say that intimacy with God is unimportant or that all “worship” must be earthshaking, psyche rending, overwhelming with mind bending beauty and awe described by Isaiah, Ezekiel and Saint John the Apostle (though we probably need more of that kind of worship than current American Christianity offers). There are ways to develop intimacy with God, I just am not convinced the worship of the gathered people of God is the best place to foster that intimacy."
He goes on to write, "I would argue a more proper place for fostering intimacy with God is in the work of the Church known as the cure of souls, or in more contemporary parlance – in spiritual direction and the spiritual disciplines."
To put this in baptist parlance, there are devotional practices and there are worship practices. They are not the same thing.
So, being the obedient slave to social media that I am, I tweeted Larry's quotation and received several responses. By far the most popular response (retweeted a bit, etc.) was by David Lewicki.
@anglobaptist I think of worship the way I think of the dinner table or a live sports event. Communal, incarnational, meaning-making.— David Lewicki (@dlewicki) February 12, 2014
What is the place of intimacy in worship? Does it belong there, per se? I mean, it certainly happens there, but is that the purpose? I think what we're looking at are competing liturgical theologies, historical streams within the tradition that privileges to different degrees the place of intimacy in worship. This focus on intimacy reflects certain historical movements (rather recently, Pentecolstalism) and thier embedded cultural contexts. Whereas other traditions (Roman Catholicism, for example) reflects another "emotional aesthetic." Lots of ideas in this paragraph. They all deserve dissertations. No. Wait.
That said, I would like to know what you think. Because we are talking about culture and various movements within Christianity across time and their influence upon one another.
So, again, what is the place of intimacy in worship? How privileged a place should intimacy have? Is it the goal of worship or a happy accident? What do you think? Are worship and intimacy compatible?