Last night, we held our first bilingual contemporary liturgy, getting it in under the wire before a major winter storm hit. Today there’s a foot of snow on the ground, and I am letting the flu-ey bug that I held at bay with varying degrees of success yesterday, have its way with me.
Even with forecasters calling for a violent nor’easter to hit just about the time the liturgy was supposed to begin, we managed to have about 30 people there. Not bad for a first try.
On Thursday, we took out a section of 5 pews to make a place for the musicians and singers to be in the nave on the same level as the congregation. The young people loved it, the older folks…not so much. At the 10:00am service there were a lot double takes, smiles and frowns.
During the sermon, I said that some people will love this and some will hate it. But whether you love it or hate it is really beside the point. The point is whether arranging the sanctuary this way helps us to further the mission of our congregation. Will we be able to reach people with this liturgy and this arrangement that we wouldn’t reach otherwise? That’s really what it’s all about. If it doesn’t do that, we put everything back and try something else. I can see some people are going to have to chew on that awhile.
We had two keyboards, a teenage girl on the drums who insisted that her grandmother get her there so she could play, two guitars, and four singers. Being on the same level with the congregation lent a sense of intimacy to the liturgy. The whole thing lasted about 50 minutes. Snow was just beginning to fall as a few of the people were leaving. Two widows who live in the same building were beaming as they left. They said how exciting it was. I watched them cross the snowy street to their apartment building. Of all the people I pictured coming to this service, I never would have imagined it would be someone like them. God always has something to surprise you up his sleeve.
Inside, most of the people were talking in the aisle. There was a sense that the wind had shifted, and there was a kind of freshness in the air, like after a rain. We still have a lot of wrinkles to iron out, but there was a sense in the sanctuary that something unique had happened and even the imperfections were part of it. Maybe the most important part.