Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pentecost: community, faith and true worship


I think our worship service this morning, which was very different, was appreciated. I know I feel good about it.This was the first service in which we implemented some ideas from our new Liturgy Coming Alive! group. We've been planning it for weeks now.

We had about 9 folks speak our "Welcome sentence" in different languages, including Urdu. No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here. Many voices!

Then, for our Acts 2 reading, we had the congregation read aloud verses 1-13 as a kind of round. I led one section, and we started the reading after Dave's section had already begun. It was suppose to be a kind of beautiful cacaphony of sound--and it was in the second service--but in the first service my section caught up to Dave's section, so we ended all together! The first service is our more informal contemporary service, so I felt perfectly free to really laugh at that. It was fun!

After reading verses 1-13 like that, one of our members played the role of Peter who gave Peter's speech in verses 14-21 from memory while walking amongst the congregation. And then just as he finished, our wonderful choir director started singing "We Are One in the Spirit" solo a cappella. Just as he finished the first line, another member, Carol B., who has the most beautiful soprano voice, arose from her seat and started echoing him in a round. They slowly walked up to the front, as they sang, and when they ended that first verse, they indicated to the congregation, in each of the two sections, to join them in singing. Ah! so lovely! The whole congregating singing that melody in a round. Just beautiful.

After the sermon, we had about 45 seconds of "silent reflection," at the end of which everyone heard the sound of blowing wind, as in the wind of the Holy Spirit descending upon us. (That was a fun thing...we'd found some sound files of "blowing wind" on the internet and were going to play them, but then one of our musicians at the early service said "I can do that," and he just blew into his microphone. Sounded much more like blowing wind than any sound file we had found!!)

The sermon itself came about from a discussion that David and I had while driving down to Wimberly for our little getaway. The topic was justice, and my theme was "as children of God (the Romans 8 passage in the lectionary) we are called to justice." I wanted to preach on that topic because it's the last of our monthly themes (long story). Anyway, justice was the topic for the sermon. I only spoke about 8 minutes, then I said something like "we've seen illustrated this morning the "many voices" that were heard on that Pentecost morning. It occurs to me that we probably learn what justice tastes like, feels like, looks like from the many voices we've encountered in our lives." And I asked people to share some personal stories about justice. Several people shared from their hearts; very moving.

For the benediction, I laminated some little cards with Teresa of Avila's prayer: "Christ has no hands on the earth now but yours, no feet but yours..." It was printed in the bulletin so we all said it together.

And then we had our Annual Church Picnic on the Grounds complete with burgers and hot dogs and children playing all kinds of games and older folks sitting around in lawn chairs. We said goodbye to our fabulous youth minister, Manda Adams, too, and shared a beautiful cake made in her honor that one of our members baked from scratch. I'm so sorry to see Manda leave us; she has brought such an integrity and creativity to our youth program. Whichever UCC congregation ends up hiring her is getting a real gem of a minister, that's for sure.

Altogether, a wonderful time of community, faith, and true worship.
I am so grateful...

image by Linda Schmidt (google images)


Jan said...

Oh, Katherine, I wish I could have been there. Languages, silence, music, and your sermon sound inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

And I miss you. We should figure out how we can see each other once again!

Mompriest said...

sounds absolutely delightfully Spirit filled. I stayed home from church on Pentecost...I find it too depressing to go these days. Actually I went to a yoga class - which was very spirit filled, and then to the dog park...which were good, fun, delightful things to do on Pentecost, but also bittersweet.