Throughout the next few weeks, months, and maybe even years, God knows, I want to keep a record of the churches that I visit and take a few notes of what I noticed, what I left an impression, things that I have reflected on about the worship service. This is the rare opportunity I have, that many pastors wish they could have, to worship in different places and spaces and truly worship. Among, and maybe even anonymously. There’s something beautiful about having a community you belong to and God has entrusted to you to be their shepherd. And there’s something powerful about going to a conference and worshiping among 100, maybe even 1000 other pastors. But then there’s something about being anonymous. There’s also something about experiencing worship in different spaces, different churches, traditions, etc. So! Without further ado~
Today I worshiped at First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor. Not at one of their three main worship services, 8, 9:30, or 11. But at the 7:07pm service geared towards campus folk. Or the otherwise nontraditional folk? Not sure of its entire ethos but it seems that it’s the people who don’t really have a desire to be in church on Sunday morning in its rigid structure. Such as the 8am service which is filled with congregants who have been at the church for decades and receive communion weekly.
Anyways, I will be honest and say one of the reasons I went to this worship was because I did not quite get up in time for the service I intended to go to at Brightmoor. Side note: make sure I am in bed earlier than I have been with Sunday responsibilities because no-responsibilities means I am a lazy nelly and often will not make it to Sunday morning service. Anyways quick search for Sunday evening services did not help me find other churches closer. But I am glad I went. It is a service I have been meaning to go to and it opened up a small world of churches that I hadn’t really thought about going to. I.e. friends’ churches.
So now to the worship service, it was pretty casual… While the musician was certainly talented, there was not a lot of other talent to back it up. However it still worked fine. I think a big part of it had to do with the fact that half the congregation was familiar with the songs and could push it onward, as well as the accompaniment. Also it was impressive to me that even the not talented was used as more than capable people. In other words, the soloist did not have the most beautiful voice, but seriously her heart in her willingness to serve was beautiful. And that covered a multitude of ‘errors’. And just like Martin Tel, the musician explained some of the songs and how we would sing it, the background etc, right in the middle of service, and that was totally cool too.
My favorite thing was honestly when my friend Rev. Lal welcomed us all to remember our baptism by slowly pouring a full pitcher of water from a clear pitcher into a clear bowl; the whole darn pitcher, while he was talking. I was always slightly bugged by the fact that we never fully emptied out the jug during communion, and other times when we pour things out of a jug/pitcher, whatever. And then later towards the end as he invited us to share the peace of Christ, the way he explained it and then dunked his hand into the water so naturally but loudly, was awesome. I realize these are aesthetic things but it really appealed to me.
The atmosphere was very casual, and while there was a definite order to things, and in fact it was printed out on the bulletin, it did not feel rigid or too structured. Just that people knew where it was going next. And even the interruption of the flow by the two people who had long-a announcements about something, it did not feel entirely unnatural. Yet there was no liturgist or leader, just people that came up and did their thing. But SOME flow was kept in that Lal was a consistent presence, beginning, middle, and end.
One thing that I think could have enhanced the experience was some order in the communion. As in how we went up and took communion. Once again, an aesthetical thing but something I noticed. It didn’t really ‘hurt’ since this was what, 20-30 people but if it was much more than that, I can see how it would have been greatly advantageous to have a flow to how communion was taken – into the middle then out the outer aisles, or something like that.
Renée preached straight from memory as opposed to any kind of notes or script. And maybe that only works for this kind of congregation or this kind of sermon. Or maybe just a particular person? Dunno.
Modernize story with a personal twist, retell story, 반전 of what we think, challenge to 반전 our thinking.
So anyways, I’m thinking about making this worship my regular Sunday nights? We’ll see.
So some commitments I have decided to make today for my ‘sabbatical’
1. On Saturday nights, home before 10:30pm and bed before midnight. Sleep before 1am.
2. Sunday morning worship is a must.
3. I will write these reports with each worship service.