Hope in Worship

During Lent at Old South, we engaged in a little “spring cleaning,” thinking about aspects of our church life that are very meaningful to us, that we want to keep, as well as things that are no longer meaningful, that we are ready to get rid of. We focused on worship, the church’s mission statement, our mission programs, etc.

One of the things that came out to be especially meaningful is worship. Many people, not surprisingly for Old South, commented on the music. For a church our size, we are blessed to have so many people with the gift of music. People also commented on the feeling of community at Old South, that they feel supported and encouraged. And, then there was one little surprise regarding how people felt about worship: they like the sermons. And more than that, many commented that they like the “thought-provoking” sermons.

I wasn’t completely surprised to find a few comments regarding sermons; I do get positive feedback on a fairly regular basis. But, I was surprised by how many people included “sermon” when they thought about what is especially meaningful for them in the worship experience. This wasn’t multiple choice, after all. They could write whatever came to mind.

At Old South, the worship experience is meaningful to a lot of people. But, I also have the sense that this is something that is mostly taken for granted. The feeling is that it’s supposed to be this way, so we don’t spend much time talking about it, or doing anything about it, or sharing it.

During a couple of committee meetings that have taken place since Easter, I’ve talked about the information regarding worship and have encouraged people to think and pray about how we might move the positive experience of worship to a new place. Can we find ways of sharing our experience more widely? How do we express our love of worship outside of the worship space? Are we able to appreciate that our good feeling is more than an individual experience, that it is a communal experience and perhaps worthy of more attention?

As I’ve discussed this information, I’ve noticed that many of those who are listening, are also thinking—and maybe even beginning to think in new ways. Exciting.

There are lots of people out there who have no idea what worship is, what it’s like or even why we do it. All they know are the jokes about boring sermons.

Maybe it’s time to get re-acquainted with some of the basics of what we do and why we do what we do, and why we are still doing what we do. It still has meaning. And it shouldn’t just be taken for granted. It should be shared.

There is hope in our common experience of finding meaning in worship. There is hope in figuring out how to share what we’ve found.

About smaxreisert

I'm a United Church of Christ pastor serving the small, faithful Old South Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Hallowell, Maine. I was ordained in Massachusetts in 1995, moved to Maine in 1997 and have served the Hallowell church since 2005.
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