Tuesday, November 28, 2017

horizontal worship...

Last Sunday, I went with my gut in worship:  I selected guitar-friendly folk
hymns, I dressed the Sanctuary for a quiet and contemplative Eucharist, and I led most of worship sitting down. It was more a gentle conversation in faith, song and silence than traditional formal worship  - a way of leading the liturgy that I have set aside for a few years - and it clearly spoke to the hearts of many. It also affirmed a hunch I have been holding close to my heart since the last night of our sabbatical in Montreal two plus years ago:  the horizontal "geography" of this type of worship speaks volumes to contemporary people about solidarity and compassion. In an age of hierarchy and mistrust, the radical equality of this style of worship is both healing and restorative.

So, during my closing two months of pastoral leadership in the Berkshires, I will take this deeper.  In time, I will look for new venues to strengthen the aesthetics and theology of "horizontal" worship, too. I don't know what else to call it except horizontal. On that last night in Montreal, we attended a Taize gathering where everyone sat on the floor. Yes, there were provisions for people who could not sit in this style; a variety of simple benches lined the periphery of the worship space. But the art, the music, the readings, the icons, the Cross and the community all happened on the carpeted floor.  This evoked two things at the same time:  first, equality; and second, humility. This was a simple act of beautiful prayer and song offered to the Lord. There was care given to the feel and flow of the room. There was ample attention paid to practicing the music, too. But it was not complicated or aloof. 

This is what we experienced, too.  And when we gathered in the Chancel to share Eucharist and song - seeing one another closely and hearing our voices reverberate in harmony with the wood - it was pure joy. Since that night in Montreal I have wanted to explore this style of liturgy in the twilight of my ministry. But, for a variety of reasons, have too often deferred to others. Sunday showed me the error of my ways - and I am grateful.   

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