“But in chapel we need not choose our thoughts. The words are aligned like a rope for us to cling to.”
– Sister Joan, Call The Midwife (season 3, episode 8)
((I’ve gone off track a nit today with this series, but that is the beauty of an open-ended month of words. Today I watched an episode of Call the Midwives and it brought on thoughts. So there. :) And though church and liturgy are not people, it seems like this post belongs. What would you say?))
A few months ago for various reasons we switched churches.
We ended up staying within Lutheran things just because that is where we found the most peace about bringing out children (and some of my family members go as well, so that was the initial draw).
But one of the differences between our old church and the new was the liturgy. Inevitably, yes, but let me explain.
At our old church (LBC) the liturgy consisted of hymns, and a sermon, the apostles creed, the Lord’s prayer, and the benediction arranged in a variety of ways to highlight various life events and sermon topics. More open-ended and much less structured.
At our new church (WELS) there is more structure. We are following the church calendar (It is the 18th Sunday after pentecost in case you were wondering). The passages for each Sunday are mostly preselected by the liturgical calendar used by the synod (described/explained a bit here). And the order of service along with all the scriptures readings, responsive prayers, and music are written out in the bulletin. It is more formal, (I called it ritualistic when we first started going, but that seems like too empty and negative a word now), but it is also more participatory at the same time.
But there is and maybe there is a peace that comes with prayers written out and anchor passages picked well in advance of sermon prep. The quote above reminded me of the possibility that the words in the service give peace and calm and continuing one when one is confused or lost in life’s tossing.
I don’t understand it yet, but that is how it seems. Though simply what I am finding. Perhaps others find the opposite to be true.
May we be reminded there is value in all forms of worship, the free and easy, the semi-structure, the in-between, the unexpected, unorthodox, and the purely liturgical. Each can help to give us words or draw out words as is necessary in our pursuit of God. And I am encouraged.
All of us have different needs at different times in our lives and the varying expressions of worship can fulfill the purpose of ministering to the church as a whole in its differences.
All while singing praises and gathering in pursuit, in honor, and in worship of our great God.
There is no “right” way to worship God.
What sort of church are you a part of these days? How did you decide and find it?