Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Chemistry of Worship

On Sundays, and other times in the year, we gather in groups of 2 or more to worship God.  How do staff and lay leaders go about planning a worship experience at Robertson-Wesley (RW)?
Our display window this summer showed a science laboratory as a metaphor for the many ingredients that are added to the discernment, discussions and research of worship that then are combined with the Holy Spirit. 

     Sunday morning experiences begin when, once a year, Tammy-Jo, Leigh and Karen look at the Scriptures (chosen by our Lectionary) and rituals of Christian traditions that will come up in the following program year.  We add in the feedback we have heard throughout the past year and begin making our broad strokes of themes.  We prayerfully reflect on these and begin to add the many musical, practical and people resources we have at R-W.  For example, which Sundays will the Bell choirs join us to add their ministry?  What Sundays will be focused on Communion or all-ages experiences?
     From there, the three of us begin to add specifics of each “season” of the year.  These include such times of year as “startup” September, the weeks leading to Christmas (Advent), Mother’s Day and Pentecost.  We listen to and add in the ideas, questions and news items that have been raised in classes, choirs, outreach and pastoral care at RW. 

We also explore how to have a diversity of music (each Sunday we love to have a song that those who cannot read can sing along to as well as one familiar hymn and one that we are all in the midst of learning).  We ensure we can explore RW’s mission (such as Stewardship Month), faith formation (such as Life Passages Sundays) and sacred rituals (such as communion and Ash Wednesday). 
   Each week, we meet again to formalize the upcoming week.  No plan ever stays the same as its broad strokes because congregational life …. well, happens!  A sermon can be inspired after a visit with a shut-in, an anthem idea can come in the midst of prayer and the Prayers of the People are built up throughout the week prior by the staff hearing about your lives, including a late Saturday night phone call. 
    Each Sunday, the Holy Spirit adds surprises of serendipity as well.  The soloist who has been rehearsing for weeks, sings “Motherless Child” to a man whose mother has passed away two days earlier.  The sermon focuses on a novel that a teenager in our congregation just started reading.  A toddler learns to walk in the chapel, an elder gets to sing a song they learned as a child, and the minister trips on her Alb…all part of the Holy Spirit ensuring that we remember that both long term planning and these instants of inspiration are part of this amazing worshiping community Christ creates among us.  Thanks be to God!

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