Sunday, February 7, 2016

Microcosm of a Church in a Single Sunday Morning

A week ago, I went to every service.  Our church, although relatively small in terms of total Sunday attendance (100-125 worshippers), has 3 services.  Last week I went to all three to lead the congregational meeting that we've woven into the service and to talk about our congregational commitment to raising money for Luther Springs, our Florida camp.  We have discussion time in the weeks leading up to the prayers and votes that we do during the meeting.

It was interesting to go to all three.  Our 8:30 service is the most streamlined, although it has the essential elements of Word and Sacrament.  I noticed that the hymn "Jesus the Very Thought of You" was partially written by Bernard of Clairvaux, and I said a prayer of thanks for how much monasticism has been part of the church, even when we didn't realize it.

Our 9:45 service is the most interactive, and it's the one I choose when I can only go to one.  I did wonder if I like it so much because most of my friends can be found at that service. 

The 11:00 service is our least peppy.  It can feel downright ponderous.  But I am biased.  I notice that people sit and let the service wash over them.  At times, there are only a few of us in the congregation who sing.  I wonder how much people are comprehending.

But I do come from a teacher's perspective--when people aren't participating, I assume that something's wrong.  However, from a worship perspective, the Quakers and other contemplatives have reminded us again and again that there's much to be gained from sitting and getting ourselves to a still and quiet place.

And then I was part of the team that counted the money; I also had a bit of chili from the congregational chili cook-off that happened after our services.  It was a true microcosm of our church.  All we would have needed was a service project to make the microcosm complete.

It was interesting to see the differences in services and activities and to think about the different purposes that they serve.  I expected to feel exhausted by the end of it--after all, I spent over 5 hours at church. 

But instead, I felt soothed.  I went home with a supreme sense of contentment.  I was pleased to see our church in action, in all sorts of ways of action, in a snapshot of a Sunday morning.

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