Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Grown-Up Church

After two weeks of sickness, Christmas preparations and travel, I'm back in a blogging state of mind. I'll post some pictures too, of our holiday adventures, once I have a quiet evening to upload photos.

But in the meantime I wanted to share a conversation I had with our pastor Christmas Eve. Fellow Traveler and I, navigating the difficult weather that evening, wound up at church about 45 minutes before everyone else; when we stopped at the parsonage to drop off a present, our pastor and his wife invited us in for a glass of wine while they got ready to head next door.

We soon started talking church chat. And our pastor noted, wistfully, "I think next year it would be nice to, maybe once or twice a month, have grown-up church -- no pre-service singalong, no kiddie stuff, no "seeker-friendly" stuff; just some grown-up liturgy with some smells and bells. I really miss that."

Thank you, Jesus. I bet more people than the parties present that evening would be up for some grown-up church.


PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

When my daughter was in high school, one year during Lent, she said that she "had" to attend Lenten services, Wed. evenings. We assumed it was some youth group assignment or something, but it turned out that it was her desire to attend (our usual) short contemplative services. But the interim pastor did some hymn teaching and also used hymn requests to stretch the service out to an hour each week. She was disappointed. The rest of us, who also worked all day and had choir practice, etc. to attend, didn't appreciate the stretched out service time.

Gilly said...

Oh Yes! Oh Yes! This side of the Atlantic as well!

Don't know if our church would go along with smells and bells (though I know the Associate Priest would) but I'd settle for a proper, grown-up liturgy in all its fullness.

JoTigger said...

I love grown-up church. I don't think I can go back to a non-liturgical service now that I'm attending a service with beautiful liturgy.

Derek the ├ćnglican said...

It's not just the adults---our kiddies (5 and almost 3) prefer a smells and bells service to...

Sheryl said...

I was just going to say what Derek said, but about teenagers. They just want the worship experience to be authentic and meaningful. We talked a little bit about that in our last Sunday school class. They very clearly remembered the clown liturgy (the liturgy was literally led by a troupe of clowns whose numbers included an ordained minister), and said they never, ever wanted to see that ever again.

The young people get it. We don't give them enough credit, but they get it.

Sheryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zorra said...

Oh, that sounds so wonderful. Including the smells and bells. (don't tell anyone I said that) So may it be.

-C said...

Your pastor has a good point. The only way we can make grown up Christians of our kids is to give them grownup Christianity.

Tom in Ontario said...

We don't do the smells (we don't have a thurible/censer and some people have pretty severe allergies that I'm afraid would drive them out of the church) and I don't know when to ring the bells (there's no rubric for that in LBW or ELW).

But we do the liturgy according to the rubrics pretty much every Sunday. The only thing we add, after the Prayer of the Day and before the Readings, is a Children's Chat where I sit down with the Sunday School kids and talk to them about the focus scripture that they'll be hearing in their Sunday School class (from a lectionary based curriculum) and then they go to Sunday School for the rest of the service time, occasionally coming back up for Holy Communion.

I don't know how to do worship without the liturgy. Even when I do a non-communion service at the nursing home it goes:
Prayer of the Day
The chaplain at the home always thanks me for doing a real worship service with a real sermon because some of the clergy just come in and sing a bunch of hymns/song and read some devotion. I just use the propers from the previous Sunday and reuse my sermon.

Anyway, I'm reminded of a story I read about a pastor who worshiped at another church while on vacation and found fault with the liturgy, the sermon, pretty much the whole service. He started to tell the pastor about his criticisms after worship and the local pastor cut him off and asked, "What parts of the service do you think displeased God?" That shut him up, because whether he liked it or not, whether it was to his tastes or not, he had to admit that it was worship.

Isn't that what it's ultimately all about? Worshiping God? Is the singalong, the kiddie stuff, the seeker-friendly stuff un-worshipful? I think that's what we all have to bear in mind.

Happy New Year by the way.