Sitting in church, surrounded by the St. John’s community, my senses are engaged. I am present.
Through hearing, I witness Chad’s wonderful music, crying children, playful children, God’s word in Scripture, sermons that touch my heart and soul. I hear “Peace be with you”, airplanes overhead, prayers.
With my eyes, I experience the liturgical colors, the vestments and priestly robes, light filtered through stained glass, familiar and loved friends and new faces.
My fingers touch the worn pews, the hymnal and prayer book that opens to Rite II. Hands are touched at the peace. The bread is placed in my cupped hands.
My nose celebrates the worn, wooden pews and the smell of the past. Sometimes, incense tickles my nose.
Taste is the holy sense when the bread and wine are taken.
Communal worship practices are foundational. I love Taize chants, familiar hymns, Chad’s liturgical compositions, Holy Week services, Advent and Lent evening prayer.
How do I commit to regular worship? It is a discipline of entering into a worship community; the body of the church with all its members.
With whom do I share the commitment to worship? With my family and friends who worship in churches, synagogues or mosques.
Journal of worship 9/8-9/29/2019:
9/8/2019: Why am I here today?
Isaiah 56:1-7 “…these I will bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer.”
Before church on 9/8, I greet members and visitors from the back of the nave. I bring brunch pot luck offerings. I see Steve in the choir—praise to God! The children and youth are back in abundance for the first Sunday of church school.
During church, I journal from the back and gaze out at the congregation. I consider how our collective memories and experiences of worship weave into a fabric that we hold during the present service. The readings call to me, “we are ambassadors for Christ…we are to be reconciled to God. So that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Relationship and calling. There is a yellow, muted lighting in the nave on this early fall day and the stained- glass glows. In the Gospel, Jesus was anointed to bring good news to the poor.
I stream-of-consciousness flow with the “why am I here today”. I sense the giant collection of people doing the same thing; being part of a large Christian community. My faith journey spools out, flowing back and forth through the decades: compassion, humility, love, strength, courage and hope. Then we are asked what word expresses our faith. LOVE is what I write on a scrap of paper. We are all children of God. Sharing kindness can have a profound impact on another human.
God is with us. Worship is a door into…full and loving communion with each other and those we meet in the world.
Then I think about Presiding Bishop Curry’s 4-minute Way of Love video that caused total body goosebumps! We share unconditional love; we acknowledge our human frailty, our collective journeys, our fears, our joys and sorrows.
9/22/2019 11am service
What definable component do I bring to worship? To communities outside St. John’s? Are they the same?
Psalm 96: 1-9
Sing to the Lord a new song
Bless him name.
Tell of his salvation from day to day. (Italics mine)
Declare, ascribe, worship!
My definable component is a willingness to empty myself, to shed, for just a while, my Monday to Saturday cares. I try to invite Jesus and the Holy Spirit into my receptive heart.
My definable component that I bring to communities outside of St. John’s is a passionate call to justice for disadvantaged children and families.
Today I listen to Zander Zoia’s beautiful piano music and reflect on our pilgrimage as we walked through Galicia this summer.
I am open in the collective worship space. Micah read in Vestry on Tuesday, at the adult forum today and during this service. Synthesis, study, reception. Like my liberal arts education; history, literature and art courses all covering shared stories, themes, wisdom. Through repetition, the Word of the Lord causes internal resonance.
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” Jay spoke of this wisdom during forum and we sang it in service.
Lisa’s sermon touched on “opening up into a vast new unexplained territory … God shows up when we have run out and fills us … To learn, to argue with the scriptures. To learn is to find the Kingdom of God. We are living in the 5th Act of Scripture.”
Wise words from our new-ish priest, Lisa!
“Strengthen you in all goodness.” This is what I will take out to communities this week.
9/29/2019 Embedded in the 9am service as a brand-new Acolyte
This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me… This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Today I walk the acolytes’ steps, carrying the flame to illuminate the Gospel reading. The ritual and solemnity of the service comes home to me. Lisa’s Eucharist invitation, I once considered lengthy, is actually a beautiful invitation from Christ for ALL to participate and meet Christ at the table. I thought I was hearing those words until I stand in the semi-circle with the priests, deacons and LEMS holding the elements during the Eucharist prayers.
I recess with my candle during the final hymn, changed in my experience of the Eucharistic feast. Such grace!
Stacy, I love these reflections. I love seeing the progression of your experiences of different parts of the liturgy and your own experience in it. They strengthen and encourage me and I think they will do the same for others. I love your “definable components” – a willingness to empty yourself, to have a heart receptive to God; and your passion for justice for disadvantaged children and their families. Thank you so much.
I love the flow of what you notice and write, so vast! It makes me realize how many ways we worship on Sunday and out into the week. You are bringing us the life that is so present in each other, and in how we gather and what we share with each other in turning our attention to God in worship. A delight to read and think about!