Friday, August 18, 2006

Sacred Space (Part Two)

Our worship service at Trinity (warning, this site has not been updated recently) is broken down into four movements: God calls, we gather; God speaks, we listen; God acts, we give thanks; God sends, we go.

God Calls, We Gather

We begin with a song. This song is usually according to the time of the season, but we are very flexible. If it is lent, we might begin with a little more contemplative song or a maybe a song about suffering. The band will usually begin the song as the congregation is gathering and still talking. This indicates that we are beginning the worship service.

The invocation follows the first song. The pastor will walk out to the space just in front of the table with their arms wide open saying, “Welcome in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” This is very purposeful and intentional time. Usually the pastor will have a brief word for us, may something that we had talked about in the class time before or maybe the Psalm designated for that Sunday. The pastor then leads us in an opening prayer.

We end this first movement by singing two more songs.

God Speaks, We Listen

After the two songs following the invocation we move into the reading of the Word. We always read the Old Testament and the Epistle readings back to back. Upon finishing the reader will say, “The Word of the Lord” to which the congregation responds, “thanks be to God.”

Following this we sing another song. It has been our custom at this point of the service to sing something from the Taize community but that is not set in stone. It’s usually a verse we sing three or four times in a little more focused and contemplative attitude.

Following this verse we read the Gospel reading. The same reader as before will, say “please stand for our gospel reading” or “please stand for the reading of the gospel,” something like that. However, instead of returning to the podium, the Gospel is read from amidst the congregation. This is symbolic for us as we are reminded that the Logos (Jesus) is among us. Following this reading the reader will say, “the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” to which we will respond, “Praise to you, Lord Christ.” Following the gospel reading is the sermon.

After the sermon, someone will come up and lead us in the prayers of the people. This is a time when we pray aloud together. Following a spoken prayer that one will say, “Lord, this is my prayer” to which the congregation will embrace that prayer as if it was their own, “Lord, here our prayer.” At an appropriate time, the one leading the prayers of the people will end by leading us all in the Lords prayer.

God Acts, we Give Thanks

After the prayers of the people the pastor will walk to the front of the table, initiating the passing of the peace, and say, “the peace of Christ be with you.” The congregation then responds, “and also with you.” The pastor will then say, “great one another in Christ’s peace.”

After this time we will be gathered again by a song which will move us towards the time of the Eucharist. The pastor will approach the table and prepare it with the words of institution. The Church of the Nazarene has a ritual for the table but it is nothing like more high church traditions (Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheren, etc.) Our church has been very flexible in sticking to the exact words (I will develop this thought more in a later post). Once the table has been prepared the congregation approaches to take a piece of bread and dip it in the cup. Following this we sing another song.

God Sends, We Go

This is time for any announcements to be said. Following the announcements we sing a song. The pastor will move to the back of the room in preparation for our sending (the benediction). When we have finished the song the pastor will raise their hands saying, “brothers and sisters, go forth into the world to love and serve the Lord.” We are to respond by turning hands so that our palms face upward, as if we are literally receiving the benediction, and saying, “thanks be to God, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.” The pastor will then say, “go in peace.”

Thus ends the summary of a pretty normal Sunday gathering. In my next post I want to draw out some of these implications particularly as they pertain to non-liturgical churches. If you are reading and you are from a high church tradition you will find many things absent or different. But, if you are part of a standard evangelical mainline kind of church then you might find Trinity’s contemporary liturgy to be intriguing. It is my goal in drawing on some of these implications to raise questions concerning spiritual formation (discipleship, catechism, etc.).

Sorry this post was longer than usual.


urbanmonk said...

Scott, I've been rethinking the titles of these movements lately. You are correct in that they follow the 4 great movements Gathering, Word, Table, Dismissal. This is really the shape of the movement to and from discipleship and apostleship. We are gathered as a community of disciples to sit at the feet of Christ-humble apprentices and learners, but is assumes a transformation. We are made into apostles (the sent ones) who after receiving the Word (in Christ) are propelled into the world as salt and light.
So anyway back to my rethinking. My original titles to the movements do not explicitly denote the Triune movement. So I've been toying with The Spirit calls, We Gather; The Father Speaks, We Listen; The Son (or Jesus) Acts, We Give Thanks; God Sends, We Go.

What made me think of this is Noble critiqued the four fold pattern saying it is not Trinitarian in shape. Now, I can see how it is possible for Trinitarian reflection to be lost on the congregation, at least explicitly. But I totally disagree that this is a valid critique of KC Trinity's liturgy. Mostly because we constantly and creatively reminded those gathered. Maybe the new titles make the movement more explicit. Hey, I don't know how much education has been happening around the shape of worship lately. You should offer to teach a class.


Scott Savage said...

Perhaps a class would be helpful. I agree with your concerns for an explicit Trinitarian langauge in our movements. I never thought of that and that's probably because we you walk into the Church (as you know) the space screams the movement of the Triune God. I need to rethink you concerns, they are so helpful and ecclesially minded! This is why we go to school, right!!