Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fixing the Order of Pentecost

Good morning God,
There's no doubt about it - having to prepare worship for a Church does steal some of the spontaneity of worship. I mean - here I am worrying about Pentecost and the coming of your Spirit and trying to figure out how to pin you down to an order of service..

What an odd expression that is -

'Order of Service'

It reads like an honour of some sort about to be bestowed - like the Order of the Garter,
Yes.. it is an honour to serve you by participating in worship.. but I'm not sure that is what most of the congregation think they are doing.
'Nice service', 'good service this morning', or my personal favourate 'I really enjoyed the service'.. all wonderful compliments which suggest that the 'service' is something that the congregation thinks it has just received rather what it has just given to you!

But that's an issue for another blog - back to my main concern.. scripting your holy Spirit..

You do know don't you God, that according to my current order of service you are due to make a personal appearance at 28 minutes to 11?  I know you are always with us, but on this rather special day it would be helpful for the congregation if you could be more, well, 'present' - perhaps you could be a little louder, rush around for a bit, slam a door or two.. but only for three minutes if you don't mind, because at 25 minutes to 11 we need to be singing our first hymn.

You see.. I just can't do it, I end up ridiculing us both - and that's not what this is about.

There does need to be some 'order' to our service - I know that.
People like to know when they are reading, or when the hymns are, or when the Children are to come in/go out or when the offertory is to be taken, and, of course, when they are free to go home!

BUT - I know you best as the God of surprises, you surprise me often- especially in worship! So preparing for Pentecost is something I find especially disturbing.  I can't help feeling that we go too far, that we 'script' your appearances and dictate our responses as our way of trying to impose our order on your glorious, creative, gracious, chaos.

The very idea of a congregation just bursting into song because the words come to mind and heart would terrify most organists (to say nothing of the projectionist who would have to find the words in Easy Worship or Songpro or whatever..) yet we do know the words to some of our hymns .. it could happen.. And as for the whole congregation breaking into spontaneous extemporaneous prayer or testimony... just because its improbable doesn't mean it's impossible.. And would it really matter if we forgot to take the collection or if the Lord's prayer wasn't said, because some of the congregation began to dance with joy and others to weep with relief at their release from sin and fear..? It happened before in England.. it could happen again.

And all in one hour...?

You are the God of surprises - and I choose to believe you might yet surprise me with an outpouring of your Spirit in the heart of the congregation at 28 minutes to 11 on the 23rd of May....


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  2. Awesome. Let me tell you about my Pentecost service for 2010, or rather, Whitsunday. Because we are celebrating 300 years as a diocese this year, and so my parish decided to hold an historic service. We are inviting a previous incumbent to celebrate because 300 years ago I would not have been behind the altar. We are dressing in period costume.

    Perhaps not the best feast for an historic service, you say? Here's the best part. We scheduled our service for Pentecost Sunday not to explore the traditions of white garments on Whitsunday, but because it is a LONG weekend!

    Come, Holy Spirit, Come!