A Bit of Grace...
Monday Morning, August 10, 2020
You would think, after all of the Sunday’s I have lead worship, I would at least know the Order of Service. I would at least know when the Choral Anthem is offered, and for that matter the Offering. Goodness, a pastor forgetting to take the offering.
Johnny Calvin must be spinning in his grave. He argued the Offering is the high point of Morning Worship, after the Prayers, the Reading of Scripture, Sermon, the Offering is the response of the people to the reality and work of the Risen Christ in and among the people in worship.
Over these many years I have been guided in worship ministry by the following Core Values.
Excellence honors God. Excellence in worship must never be an afterthought. God is worthy of our best. Each service must be well planned. Every movement must be well executed. Every participant must know what they are to do from the usher to the preacher! Any person who has any role in worship, from preacher to lay leaders must be people who are skilled in their craft, who walk humbly with God and who have been anointed by his Spirit to lead worship.
I am grateful that when I was a bit disorientated, plowing through the Prayer, Reading of Scripture, right over the Choral Anthem and right into the Sermon, and when I was a bit lost, wandering down from the Chancel to the floor of the Sanctuary to note the candles, to pray for TaRon, and others in need, I forgot the Offering, that Rob, Andrea, Greg, and Melissa “had my back”, that folks gathered followed along with only a smile and a measure of grace.
After all, there is also the Core Value, worship is participatory, it is not a spectator sport. Liturgy means, “the work of the people.” We recognize different people have different needs and as such we must offer worship services that will meet them at their particular time and place on their spiritual journey.
Our work as a people of God, in our particular time and place, has no script. We do not know how to order the realities of the day, a worldwide pandemic, chaos in the political, economic, social, educational, medical, religious, and personal realms of common life. The old order has passed away, a new order has begun; or to put it in the truth of the purpose and work of Jesus, the work of the people is rooted and grounded in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ of God.
Many years ago, when I totally messed up the first communion service I presided over at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, offering the Cup, before the Bread, spilling wine all over the brand new, just dedicated Irish Communion Linen, one server, matriarch of the church, pillar, person who crafted the linen, dedicated in memory of her parents, was furious with me, steam coming out of her ears as she processed down the isle to the table to receive communion from this rogue pastor, whispering her anger under her breathe. Another women, Chair of the Pulpit Nominating Committee that called me to that church smiled a great big smile, and blurted out for all to hear, “If you can’t mess up in God’s house, at the Lord’s Table…”
Those words hung over the gathered congregation for a second or two. Then, the people of God, doing their work, laughed. Joy was discovered. Grace shared.
Sort of like what happened this past Sunday. A bit of unplanned joy, in the midst of chaos. Oh, how we need such a time together. We so need joy. We so need to share grace.