23 January 2008

Worship Order, Lenten Series, Sermon Movement, Response to Frontline

As noted before the Organist/Choirmaster of the church I serve recently accepted a new position in another part of the state.  His departure constrained the planning and order of worship.  We had developed an order of worship highly dependent on sung responses, seasonal music, singable hymns and service parts that fit the mood and tone of the worship act.  Currently the church is hiring people on a four week basis till we find a permanent replacement.  Since we are and will have a series of different musicians I streamlined the order of worship, here is the latest installment:

Ringing of the Bell
Sentences from Scripture
Prayer of Confession
The Congregation Seated
(by the way, like most churches we place asterisks in front of the service parts indicating when folk are supposed to stand - and most follow.  Most, however, never know quite when to sit down.  When I placed the congregation seated part it worked like magic.  Nothing like simplicity to ease confusion.)
A Time with the Children
Lesson from Scripture
The Morning Prayer with response
We shall trust in your steadfast love
and our hearts will rejoice in your salvation.
The Lord's Prayer
The Peace
At the Offertory
Prayer of Dedication

Lenten Sermon Series

I toyed around with a Great Questions series but it would not come together.  My plan b on The Temptations of Jesus, however, came together very easy.  As I looked for second lessons for each Sunday they almost jumped off the pages of Paul's epistles.

The series will start the Sunday before Ash Wednesday (a preparatory sermon) and will run through to Easter morning.  The following are embryonic titles, they usually change as the Sundays get closer.

3.Feb.2008  A Non-foundational Foundational  Jeremiah 23:23-32 and Psalm 139
10.Feb.2008  Almost Persuaded  Matthew 3:1-17 & 2 Corinthians 4:1-12

17.Feb.2008  Side Show Bob or Something Else  Matthew 4:1-4 & 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

24.Feb.2008  Testing 1, 2, 3, Testing  Matthew 4:1-2, 5-7 & Romans 8:28-30

2.Mar.2008  My Kingdom for a Horse  Matthew 4:1-2, 8-11 & Philippians 2:1-11

9.Mar.2008  Yeah...Right  Matthew 5:1-13 & I Corinthians 1:18-31

16.Mar.2008  Forget About It...I'm Done  Matthew 27:45-50 & I Corinthians 15:50-58

23.Mar.2008  Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream  Matthew 28:1-10 & I Corinthians 15:1-11

You can see that I have disavowed the use of the lectionary.  Although I see the value of the lectionary I cannot for the life of me fully buy into using it.  I feel too constrained and locked in. I am more comfortable chewing on ideas that bubble up through contact with folk in pastoral situations, cultural events, and metaphors/symbols/mutterings that emerge from prayer, then forming the raw material into a sermon series.

Moving the Sermon

In seminary I first became exposed to the placement of the sermon in the middle of the service.  At first I was all eggs and bacon over this idea.  But as I have used and worshipped in this order for some time now I find myself missing the placement of the sermon nearer the end of the service.  I know worship can and does flow nicely with the sermon in the middle followed by the offering.  But does the centrality and importance of the spoken word become diminished somewhat.

Response to Frontline

Last night PBS ran a special on kids and the internet.  I came away thinking pastors and churches can and will have a unique place in the coming future.  I houses of worship maybe the one places that are offline and unplugged.  They will seem like relics from distant times and places, responsive readings, communal singing, close physical proximity, the spoken word, silence, attentive listening, etc.  

I am not a technophobe, but I am betting the uniqueness and special quality of worship is/will be a rediscovered phenomena in future years.  Why?  There will come a time when computer advancements, virtual social networking, technological infatuation will come to an end.  I do not mean in a few years we will stop using all of these components, to the contrary they will be even further integrated into our lives, but their ultimate promises will come up empty, lacking and wanting. 

Rather than run head on into the stream of technology, I believe, pastors (especially pastors) should be folk running and swimming in the opposite direction.  If no one else is reading hardbacks (students instead employing sparknotes), if no one else is thinking systematically pastoral about how all of the events of life are affecting the soul, if no one else is trying thinking parts to whole or whole to parts we should.  We are in the information age and business but from a different angle and perspective.  

I am not afraid of being a dinosaur, a dinosaur that is technologically proficient, but a dinosaur nonetheless.  

In an odd way I think the rise of Barack Obama may give some fodder to this.  Have you listened to folk who exit his speeches?  They talk in "revivalistic" tones: "they saw the light"  they feel "saved"  and etc.  Why?  Because of his great experience?  No.  Because he has the ancient power or oratory, of putting together nouns and verbs in a fashion that can raise consciousness.  He can form sentences.  He can speak in a clear manner.  He does this and folk think he is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  I know there is more to him than simply sentences, but a good part of his appeal is his words and his usage of them.  

No comments: