When we gather for worship at St. John’s United Church of Christ the form changes all the time. Sometimes the choir will put on a cantata or we have will guest musicians come in. Sometimes we keep the kids in the sanctuary and have some extra fun. Sometimes we mix different languages. Finally the order of worship is radically transformed on the first Sunday of every month for Holy Communion.
There is no right or wrong way to worship. Styles and orders evolve, and ours comes from a unique set of historic connections. Over the next few weeks we will explore the elements of our worship service. The adult Sunday School class will touch on lessons that speak to the focus that we are going to practice any given Sunday during worship. This is an experience in blowing things out of proportion.
On January 15 our theme will be “Praise the Lord!” The Sunday School will work on lessons around Doxology and Praise. Then follows a so-called “contemporary service”. No bulletin. Songs projected on the wall and no liturgy. It’s gonna start with a long period of upbeat worship and praise. There will be prayers and a biblical message but the main focus is on praise.
On January 22 we will be back to bulletin and an almost normal service. The theme “I believe” sends the Sunday School into the ancient creeds of the church. In traditional worship the creeds were the response to the sermon, the congregation’s assent to God’s spoken Word. Since this Sunday is also our election of church officers, we will especially focus on the priesthood of all believers that is so central to our Protestant faith.
On January 29 we will unearth a thing that we tend to shove to the side: Looking at our sinful nature. The Message is: “You are forgiven” But forgiveness can only be received after the confession of sin. We limit this practice to communion Sunday. In traditional worship this is how every service starts: Humbling yourself and allowing God to pick you back up. Sunday School will focus on the sacraments that are signs of forgiveness and restoration.
On February 5 I will be leading Confirmation Camp at Slumber Falls. The Rev. Jennifer Veres-Schrecengost has agreed to come back and lead this service focused on Holy Communion.
On February 12 I will be visiting family in Germany. The Rev. Marilyn Fiddmont will focus on stewardship and giving. The worship element to highlight is obviously the offering.
On February 19 our theme is “Be blessed”. This is about receiving and being a blessing. For Sunday school it’s about the Benediction.
When we step into worship, we don’t walk into a place that we own. Most of it may feel familiar, but when we dig deeper into different parts of the service we are drawn into a much richer reality. Let us grow over the next few weeks as we stretch our hearts and minds in worship.