Thursday, April 7, 2016

Ancient Church, Future Church

As I think about the worship services of my retreat week, I am struck by the stark difference of the two halves of the week.  I spent the first half at a Trappist monastery, Mepkin Abbey.  During the second half of the week, I was at Lutheridge, a Lutheran church camp in the mountains of North Carolina; I was at the creativity retreat, one of my favorite events of the year.

The monks celebrated the Octave of Easter in the way that they've always celebrated.  They didn't break with tradition.  The various worship materials dictate the hymns and the Psalms and the order of the service, and the monks don't deviate.  There is a comfort to knowing that worship has been this way for centuries.  The words could sink into our bones because we weren't wondering what to do next, how we would pray at this service, what kind of movements we'd need to be doing.

The Create in Me retreat at Lutheridge was very different.  The Friday night worship service kept many of the same elements of a traditional Communion service, but we used them differently, and we saw the themes of the retreat (Dreams and Visions) woven through. 

For example, upon entering, we saw this table:

Picture by Donna Davis Prunkl

And for the prayers of the people, we made banners earlier in the day, and for the worship service, participants wrote prayers on ribbons and tied them through the holes at the edges of the banner:

The worship services at Lutheridge were more creative, although those of us who have been participating for years can see a pattern.  The morning worship/devotions included a story told by Pastor Mary--usually a children's story with adult implications.  We sing at every worship, and the songs match the Bible passages that are also included.  We close by using a service in a labyrinth, although the labyrinth location might change.  This year, we laid the labyrinth out in the Faith Center with yarn:

The worship services during both halves of the week were deeply rooted in Christian faith, even if we didn't celebrate Communion at every service. 

I do confess that worship with Communion was my favorite at Create in Me, but not my favorite at Mepkin Abbey; Compline is my favorite at the monastery.

One might think that the Mepkin monks are the ancient church and the Create in Me tribe the future church--that's what I was thinking when I first started writing.  But as I imagine those first disciples trying to figure out how to keep their communities grounded, I imagine them creating all sorts of worship services, and surely some of them would have been similar to the worship I experienced at both places.  I imagine an early believer with the outlook of a poet who would see different approaches to confession or prayer.

I imagine future believers looking back to what we've been creating at our worship services and adding their own marks.

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