Thursday, February 14, 2013

On the Journey Together

One of the more enlightening (and frightening) moments in my time in youth ministry was when two eighth graders, who I had known for five years, came up to me one night and asked, “So what are we?” “Human males,” I said, wondering what they actually meant.  “No,” said one. “Like, as a church. Are we Baptists, or what?” In hindsight, I probably could have focused on Disciples identity a bit more with that group.  But it raised questions that still rumble around in my head today, including, “Why do we do worship the way we do?”

(I had you going for a minute, didn’t I? You were worried I’d be announcing a big push to figure out who and what we are as Disciples of Christ.  I’m not.  Yet.)

As I understand worship, it is the act of being in the presence of and relationship with God and each other to recharge, restore, repent, and return to the world. It is where we most fully honor the diversity of God’s people as we corporately hear the word, sing of God’s mercies, join at the table of grace, and go blessed to bless. It is where we reach up to know God has already come down, as it were.  And it is meant to get everyone, minister and organist included, from Point A to Point B.  Not the same Point B for everyone, but if you come in at Point A, you hopefully leave changed, shaken up, challenged. There is something new.

For the Sundays of Lent (welcome to Lent!), a few changes have been made to the order of worship. We’re still going to start with a prelude, call to worship and a hymn, but we have added in a unison prayer of confession and words of assurance. If that seems a little… Presbyterian, I understand where you’re coming from, but I’d like us to try it. The beats of silence between confession and the promise of the gospel are powerful moments in the life of the church. Because we are pronounced forgiven, we will then forgive by passing the peace; after that, we will come together at the table.

We will be celebrating communion early in the service. It is the most important part, and I think it speaks to the rest of the service more than anything else including the sermon, and I want to see what happens when we hear the word through the lens of restoration.  We’ll try it for Lent and see.  The times of stewardship and discipleship will still be after the sermon, and then we will go into the world.

As we journey together in the Week of the Passion this Lent, I hope you will join me and others in the church in examining why we do things the way we do, and how it is a blessing that still calls us to venture forth to Point B. I will see you all on Sunday, surely.

  Shalom y’all, Arthur

P.S. Angi, thank you 1,000 times for filling the pulpit on Sunday. You did a marvelous job.

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