Emotions are mental states brought on by neurophysiological changes, variously associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioural responses, and a degree of pleasure or displeasure.There is no scientific consensus on a definition. Emotions are often intertwined with mood, temperament, personality disposition, or creativity.
That’s not me speaking that was taken from the internet so it must be true.
When we feel sad, do we just need to pray more? When we feel happy, is this a sign of strong faith?
People have a wide range of opinions when it comes to emotions. At one extreme is the belief that emotions are simply uncontrollable physical forces that must simply be repressed. At the other end of the spectrum is frustration over the idea that they are considered so important and used as the basis for everything. Throughout the Bible, we find a variety of emotions expressed. So how should we view emotions, and can they affect our faith?
One has only to read through the Psalms to see the whole range of emotions expressed. We can take comfort in the fact that God inspired the writers of this book to express all the emotions we encounter. When sin entered the world, however, our emotional responses became tied to our sinful nature and this suffering world. Therefore, we must be careful to not let our emotions control what we believe.
At times Jesus was completely overcome with strong emotions, like when he wept for Lazarus or the time he threw people out of the temple. All these emotions were right because Christ was perfect, always obeying God’s commands, even despite overwhelming emotions.
He went through all of that for our sake, so that he would intimately know what it is like to be human. He endured all the emotions he was bound to be feeling all the way to the cross so that we could be saved.
C. S. Lewis wrote
Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable…That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue.
Faith does not depend on our emotional state but holds onto and trusts what God has said. Physical or emotional struggles are always going to shake us up. While our emotions can and should express our faith. God is constant and unchanging. He is the anchor we grasp by faith when everything threatens to overwhelm us.
Now what does all that have to do with worship.
Well, worship depends on our individual emotions. in that, we are all different and we all need something to experience the true nature of worship.
If you are a Quaker - silence is the way that emotions are stimulated.
In Quaker worship there are no ministers or creeds. They first gather together in silence to quiet their minds – they don't have set hymns, prayers or sermons. In the stillness they open their hearts and lives to new insights and guidance. Sometimes they are moved to share what they discover with those present.
I remember vividly my training at Gloucestershire School for Ministry and all of us gathering around a small table which contained a Cross and a lit candle. We all meditated for a while. It can be quite an experience with thoughts and emotions entering your head. I remember opening my eyes at the end of of the session and noteing peoples reaction to the experience that we all had just had. That was Worship.
So what about us:
Have you ever sat back to listen to a favourite piece of music, and have you been moved by the music to tears. Or have you, when it is over, got up and felt a new strength within you, clearly motivated by the piece of music that you have listened to.
Well that is what worship to me is all about. In a sense worship is all about showing God that we love Him and want him by our side, always,,,,,, to lead us though this life of turmoil, upset, happiness and love and all the other emotions that we experience and feel.
The Son Of God experienced many of the emotions we all feel so we shouldn’t be afraid of them, we just need our Lord by our side to help us through them and to enjoy them or just simple cope with them.
I could eulogise for hours what worship means to me and what I want to get out of it. But what I think, or feel is irrelevant to other people.
People can find they can worship God in many different ways, by dance, by playing musical instruments or simply praying in silence. A walk in the countryside is another and important way to speak to God, very often his reply is in something you see.
But whatever way you do it, remember this, God has to be present in any kind of worship. It is, first and foremost a communication to and from God. He has to be there in everything that we do.
To me, worship conducted in the presence of Gods family like we are doing here today is wonderful. The music, prayers, and words all effect my emotions and I find the whole thing very fulfilling.
But remember we are all different and are emotions are built differently in all of us. So which ever way we worship God, it is the fact we recognise Christ as Gods only Son and his sacrifice for us and his love for us which is constant and overwhelming.
Ken Hitchings - Sunday 13th August at St Cyr Stinchcombe