This installment of “Minister’s Musings” is, in some ways, a kind of “Part 2” to last month’s article on worship. As you’ll recall, in that article I talked a bit about what I see as “worship theory” (I’m painfully aware that it only scratched the surface, of course). This month I’d like share a little about practice, and tell you about what we hope will be an exciting new approach to our Sunday morning worship.
To begin though, I’d like to give you a little background…
Last Spring Ron, Carol, Kit and I went to a workshop by Marcia McFee of the Worship Design Studio (www.worshipdesignstudio.com). It was a wonderful experience, and we all came away with renewed excitement about what our worship could be.
McFee encouraged us to approach worship in the same way a film maker approaches a movie, looking at all elements, how they relate to one another, and how they can be coordinated into a seamless, flowing whole. “Think about it.” she said, “When you go to a movie, each element- the music, scenery, lighting, costumes, dialog- everything- is designed to create one coherent piece. You are immersed in the “world” of the movie; transported to a different time and place.”
McFee suggests that we can approach Sunday morning worship in the same way- everything contributing to one, coherent whole.
As I say, it was very inspiring, and as a result of that workshop we assembled a group of folks to help us “re-imagine” Sunday mornings. They’ve been working this Summer to find ways of “kicking our Sunday mornings up a notch”.
Now, don’t panic. Much will remain the same. Half of our Sundays will feature a an informative guest presenter. Our choir will be singing on some Sundays, and we will have guest musicians on other Sundays. There will still be time to share “Sorrows and Celebrations”, chalice lightings, and many of our other cherished traditions.
What will change, I hope, is not so much WHAT we do, but rather HOW we do it.
That will start with the whole concept of “monthly themes”. In previous years, we’ve decided on a monthly theme, I’ve (sometimes) written about it in this newsletter, and then…well, usually it’s been ignored from then on. This year we’re trying something a bit different. There will be a monthly “worship series theme” and then a weekly theme exploring some aspect of that monthly one.
For example, September’s worship series theme is “Life-Giving Waters”.
Our weekly themes, then, will touch on some water theme:
Sept 3 – “Welcoming Waters”
Sept 10- “Healing Waters”
Sept 17 – “Cleansing Waters”
Sept 24- “Peaceful Waters”
The idea here, of course, is to have a coherent message that spans the entire month exploring one theme, either actually or metaphorically. Each week, no matter who our speaker is, they will be asked to touch on some aspect of the weekly theme. Even our outside speakers will be asked to relate their presentation to that theme somehow (We are boldly presenting our speakers with a challenge!)
We’ll also be trying some new approaches to the service itself. We’ll be adding some visual elements, using music as “background” and “layering”, and inviting more voices to contribute to worship. We’ll be paying more attention to the “flow” of the service, looking at the way elements transition one into another, and the overall “feel”. There will be, hopefully, a diminished sense of “checking off the boxes”.
One aspect that I’m particularly excited about is that we are inviting YOU to light our chalice! Each week we will have someone different (individual, couples, families- whatever) share with us what UUFS means to them and then light our chalice. It could be an original piece or a poem that speaks to you.
We’ll approach people for September to get us started. But for the rest of the year, if you’d like to sign up to light our chalice, there will be a sign-up sheet in the social room, along with the volunteer sheets for all the other opportunities for service to our community.
As a final thought, I want to just say this: We may not be as wealthy or as large as some congregations. There are many things we aren’t or don’t have.
But we DO have us- we have joy, wonder, creativity, commitment, and delight. We have smart, kind, loving people who are committed to making the world a better place for all. We have a world of possibility, if we can get past the inertia of “the way it’s always been done” and open ourselves to it.
This new approach is a grand experiment. We will try some things that may or may not resonate with you. I hope you will be patient with us as we explore together. Please let us know what works for you, and if you have any ideas, let us know that, too!
Our Sunday morning worship is the most public and consistent ministry we have. Sunday mornings, and this beloved community, deserve our very best. May we constantly strive to bring that “very best” to our shared spiritual life- both on Sundays and every day of the week.
Wishing you peace and blessings,