Helter Skelter Worship

Helter Skelter Worship

A recent article from the New York Times sheds light on a new trend among our neighbors across the Atlantic. Megan Specia reports:

Inside Norwich Cathedral in the east of England, a colorful, 55-foot-tall slide — known as a helter skelter — winds past the 12th-century stone pillars. The Rev. Canon Andy Bryant, Norwich Cathedral’s canon for mission, said it offered visitors a new perspective on the ornate ceilings, and on the faith more generally.

“This is a deliberate attempt to help people engage with our cathedral,” he said. “There is this idea that the helter skelter makes it all brash and noisy, but people are going on to see the cathedral in all of its glory.”

     BBC reported around the same time that Bishop Jonathan Meyrick preached a sermon partway down the helter-skelter. He defended the ride saying, "God is a tourist attraction… God wants to be attractive to us... for us to enjoy ourselves, each other and the world around us and this glorious helter-skelter is about just that."

     What is wrong with this picture? For starters, God certainly does not exist to be “a tourist attraction.” In addition, Norwich Cathedral was definitely not built as a tourist attraction. The famous cathedral in England was built between the years 1096 and 1145. Its architecture is commonly described as Gothic. The predominant feature of Gothic architecture is its massive perpendicular nature. The size and shape of giant cathedrals like this make a theological point: God, the Creator, is transcendent and awesome; we, the creature, are dependent and small. When you enter a space such as a cathedral, your eyes are drawn upward and you feel abundantly small. This is no accident. It is by design.

     There is a lesson in this for Christ the King (and believers everywhere). God does not need a helter-skelter to draw us into worship. Worship is not conjured by a fun atmosphere, fancy lights, or a magic formula. Worship is a response to all that God has done for us in Christ.

     Helter-skelter worship seeks to worship God for who we want Him to be – “a tourist attraction.” True worship praises God for who He is and what He does. Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4, “the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” Jesus continued, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

     Whether it is in a gothic cathedral, in the sanctuary at Christ the King, at our place of work, or at home with our family, may we worship the Lord in spirit and truth. When our eyes look up, may we see the face of our Savior, not a helter-skelter amusement ride.

In Spirit and truth,    Pastor Matthew