(Oops…forgot to post this yesterday! There will be two posts today.)
I am often asked where Bahá’ís worship. For people from a Christian background, I see where the confusion comes from. For many Christians, worship happens within a church during a service presided over by a clergy member. (and elsewhere, too, of course – but service/mass is an obvious, concrete worship time)
Bahá’ís gather every 19 days and hold something called “feast.” It is considered both a spiritual feast (prayers, deepening) and an actual feast (snacks!). Large communities may have a Bahá’í center, and those that do not meet in the home of someone in the community.
Personally, I love this aspect of the faith. It is wonderful to gather in someone’s living room or around a dining room table and listen to selections from the Bahá’í writings. It’s personal and cozy and warm.
After the spiritual feast, we move on to administrative matters of the community such as planning study circles or reaching out to members of the community who may need assistance. This is followed by snacks and a time to chat with each other.
Aside from feasts, Bahá’ís also hold devotionals (just prayers/writings from the Bahá’í faith and other religions) and deepenings (carefully studying one or two selections from the writings) for spiritual sustenance. There is also a daily prayer (your choice of 3) and a daily meditation.
We also consider work, music, art, and dance performed in the spirit of worship to be worship. We are in a constant state of worship in my house!
Bahá’ís also have several Houses of Worship around the world – one on each continent. (aside from Antarctica) North America’s temple is in Wilmette, IL.
Bahá’í temples are a little different than churches or other places of worship. While built by Bahá’ís, they are home to people of all religions. They do not hold services there, and you are welcome to pray/meditate/contemplate in your own faith tradition in a Bahá’í temple. For me, the temple feels like a blank canvas. When you enter, you are free to think or pray or simply sit in silence.
They are used for devotionals and sometimes for choral concerts. Devotionals take writings from many world religions, not just from the Bahá’í faith. The long term goal is for every community in the world to have a place like this for worship, though for now, Bahá’ís around the world are focused on nurturing the spiritual and social aspects of their communities.