Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Interactive Worship in the Butterfly Garden

On Sunday, I was in charge of our Worship Together service.  And I felt like I had no ideas.  Every idea I came up with, I had done before.

Our 9:45 service is fairly unique, blending elements from Sunday School and a traditional worship service.  We have a liturgy that we follow most weeks.  Instead of a sermon, we have a puppet show or a reader's theatre or some sort of interactive approach--although occasionally we don't.  We break into small groups where we model a Faith 5 approach to faith development that families can practice in their homes (discuss highs and lows, tie to Bible reading, pray, bless each other).  Every other week, we have an arts/craft project of some kind.  

Lately, after several years of this approach, I feel my creative well running dry.  I was doubly distressed, because it was Palm Sunday.

Our first week with the Palm Sunday text, the week before Palm Sunday, our pastor asked us to think about the best ways to show love to each other.  So, on Palm Sunday, we talked a bit about that.  And I brought up showing appreciation.

Then we moved our worship outside.  Our church has lovely butterfly gardens, so we walked through them together.  We stopped and noticed signs of God's love and resurrection (yes, jumping ahead to Easter). 

And we did our Faith Five as we walked, a sort of stations approach.  At the first stop, we talked about our highs.  And the second stop, we discussed our lows.  At the next stop, we talked about how our highs and lows intersected with the Bible reading that instructed us to love each other.  At our last stop, we prayed and blessed each other.

So, at each stop, we began by noticing God's beauty and generosity, made manifest in the garden.  And then we did the Faith Five portion.

It worked beautifully.  I've noticed that when we sit at a table, under the fluorescent lights, we don't all pay attention.  We have trouble staying focused--or we get too focused on just one step of the Faith Five.  But moving outside, even though the walk was short, brought all our attention to a single focus.

It helped that it was a beautiful morning:  a cold front had come through, so the temperature was perfect with low humidity.  The sun beamed over us all.

When I look back over all the worship experiences I've tried to create, all the spiritual formation I've tried to foster, all the experiential encounters with the Divine, I don't know that I'll see Palm Sunday 2015 as a high point.  But as a woman who was feeling drained and uninspired, I'm happy for how the Holy Spirit used that blank space to create something that felt meaningful.

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