Every Monday in Geita I’m asked several times where I went “to pray” the day before. The Swahili word they use is ‘sali,’ which means something like ‘to petition a higher being.’ I’m by no means an expert in the language, but I know the word (like nearly 20% of Swahili vocabulary) has its roots in the Arabic language. It’s no surprise, then, that ‘sali’ carries a slight connotation of the ritual reciting of prayers. And this is how Tanzanians sum up the Sunday gathering of Christians.
At first I thought this was strange and wanted badly to instead use the word for ‘worship,’ which I in fact rarely hear. But describing our Sunday gatherings as “worship services” is no better. In fact, I’m certain this description of our time together does more harm than good. We ought to reconsider what we call these gatherings.
But we should rethink much more than how we refer to our time together. How about rethinking worship as a whole? What is worship?
And what is the purpose of our Sunday gatherings? Are we missing something?
I’m still working through the series on giving, so I don’t intend to draw this out — not any time soon. I do plan to, however, offer my ideas (in brief) on the subject tomorrow. But I’m more interested in hearing yours. What is our Sunday time about? What is it supposed to be about? What should we call it? Have we properly defined worship?