Come tonight for Rest and Bread, if you like. Come pray with us, join us for communion at 6:15. Come for a deep, sweet silence at 6.
After Rest and Bread, come tell us what you like about Rest and Bread, and what you wish we would and could do. We'll be so glad for your input.
John the Baptist (Someone read Mark 1:1-11 -- though I don't actually remember having heard any of the middle bits.)
Keith did the Reflection. He talked about how John the Baptist is sometimes thought of as the last of Old Testament prophets, precursor to Messiah.
He said that Jesus might have been a follower of John, but they had some differences. Jesus says God's kingdom is more accessible, something we can participate in, less catastrophic. His end point was something about building up the kingdom with each other -- I don't even remember; I've heard a lot of sermons recently, and it's all somewhat blurry.
At the call to prayer, Laura Ruth said, "some of us think we have too many prayers and some of us think our silent prayers won't be heard," and we are invited to share aloud as many prayers as we wish, and to keep silent as many prayers as we wish. I was pleased by this (see my recent discomfort with how Prayers are done here versus for example at CWM). She spoke to God, "begging your presence here in this room," which sort of talk always makes me uncomfortable since God is always present and said that we know that "all that we ask of you is met with respect." I really liked that phrasing.
She invited us to pray for our world, our nation, and our community. I wasn't sure if that was supposed to include all of our Prayer Concerns, so after a couple of people had lifted up more global concerns (with substantial periods of silence in between -- I learned later that she had totally forgotten about the sung response), I listed all of mine (I prayed for Charles, and for CWM, in ways that didn't insult anyone being prayed for \o/) and then she said we also pray for ourselves and those we love (oops).
After service two weeks ago, I sent the following email to Laura Ruth:
Subject: Rest and Bread (liturgical planning)***
So apparently I'm on a liturgical planning kick or something.
Rest and Bread
I feel like in the past the Psalm often got tied in with Sacred Text during the Reflection, but especially now that we're on this biography series it hasn't seemed at all connected, but it's usually a different one each week so there must have been some thought going in to the selection. Illuminate for me? If it's supposed to be connected to the Sacred Text/Reflection, I would like that connection to be made explicit in, say, the Reflection. If it's not supposed to be thematically connected to anything else in the service, I'd like to understand better why we read it at all and why we read different Psalms instead of reading the same one every week so that we really sink deep into that hymn, like we did with Taize -- though I'm really not suggesting that we learn to daven the Psalms.
(And sidebar: The unusual translation of Psalm 19 that we've used at least twice now is interesting, but using two different genders for the sun in the same stanza really throws me -- I assumed one was referring to the sun and one to God and didn't realize otherwise until I read the NIV version of the Psalm.)
(2) Prayers of the People
I much prefer CWM's style of "What are the joys and concerns on your heart this day?" and the congregants spill out their lists, but I recognize that in a more meditative prayer setting like this it makes sense to lift up joys and concerns separately and to not list everything on your heart all at once -- because part of the point is for the congregagtion to be silently praying each other's prayers in the silent moments in between -- though this does mean that I usually end up selecting only a fraction of the prayer concerns on my heart because I feel awkward listing them all out loud when they would total as many or more than all the prayer concerns listed by the entire rest of the congregation
But not only am I often uncertain as to the distinction between the categories for petitions (i.e., I sometimes wonder where I should slot certain prayer concerns of mine), I'm offen not clear how many segments we're actually breaking it into on a given day since sometimes we seem to merge "our community/s" and "our loved ones and ourselves" -- which is a merger that totally makes sense to me, but when I'm not clear that we're merging them I'll sometimes hold off listing prayer concerns and then find that we've moved on to thanksgivings.
The segmentation model reminds us to be in prayer for persons and places beyond just our own particular spheres, but I wonder if it would make more sense to just say in the Call to Prayer something like, "we remember to pray for not only ourselves and our loved ones but also our communities and our nation and the world," and then just let people lift up all the prayer concerns on their hearts as they feel moved, and then move on to thanksgivings*. (This is clearly my preference -- especially since it would make me feel much more okay about listing all my concerns in one long breath -- but I know this church uses the segmentation model on Sunday mornings as well and so it might be more disruptive than helpful to change the model for Wednesdays, so I'll trust your discretion on that.)
*so yes I'm still okay with compartmentalizing joys and concerns... in case that wasn't clear
I feel sort of bad about changing some of the liturgy on the fly yesterday because I know how off-putting it can be to have a familiar ritual suddenly not follow the exact rhythm one is used to. Apparently I feel a bit more strongly than I had realized that I want all my church to be more like CWM. (I mean, I'm not actually trying to turn all my churches into CWM, because there's a lot I value in the differences, and there's even stuff I would change at CWM, but the Communion liturgy at Rest and Bread was feeling so bland...) I'd love to sit down with you and talk about rewriting the Communion liturgy some, but I know you must be extra busy while Molly is on sabbatical plus you might have compelling reasons to leave the liturgy as is.
Okay, I think I'm done -- for now :)
And you know that I really enjoy Rest and Bread service... I critique because I love -- well that and because I'm a control freak ;)
Apparently they had already been planning to have a meeting after service this week (and after Coffee Hour this coming Saturday), to kind of check in given that it's been (over) a year since they started this service.
Apparently I have really strong feelings about some things.
We kind of went through the order of worship, and I asked about the Psalms, said that we used to connect them with the Sacred Text in the Reflection but we don't anymore, but we still do a different one each week and so you don't fall into the rhythm of doing the same one each week, and I couldn't see any purpose for why we do them and it's so important to me that we understand why it is that we do everything we do.
Laura Ruth said that she does try to thematically connect them even if that connection isn't explicitly articulated in the Reflection (I said that _I_ don't usually see a connection and therefore it is clearly not clear enough), and she talked about how the Psalms are a wonderful resource for us to pray, and that's why she opens that section with, "Please pray with us [Psalm number whatever]," and I said, "That's a really nice sentence, but I don't think anyone actually does it. I think when people open up their bulletins and are reading something cold, they're just reading it rote and not thinking about it. And maybe I'm just a horrible person who's too cynical about humanity, but plenty of lay readers don't seem to really engage with what they're reading when they're lay reading -- and that's a conscious performance -- so I really don't think people are being very intentional when they're reading the Psalm here. _I_ don't pray the Psalms -- I notice 'oh, we say Lord' or whatever, I do subtle textual critique, but I don't pray them, and I've at least looked them over once prior while putting the bulletins together." I was getting really really worked up, which kind of surprised me in the moment but which on reflection totally makes sense.
She said that if you do the daily lectionary, those include Psalms, and you get thematic arcs (I did not know that the MTW readings build on Sunday's reading and RFS prepare for the following Sunday's reading). I was ridiculously excited about doing lectionary -- I think not so much because I've become high church but because I love hearing different takes on the same passage(s). She had a copy of Revised Common Lectionary: Daily Readings and I want one now.
Keith mentioned that we used to sometimes use a Sacred Text other than the Bible, and I said, "Oh yeah, I'd forgotten about that because we use the Bible all the time now, which I like so much better -- which answers the question you were about to ask, doesn't it?"
I said it feels like I'm in a UU church -- and also it's weird because it's not like this church is really radical, I mean they still say Lord or whatever, and that's true in all my leftie churches but it always surprises me that they don't have a Tallessyn to complain, so when they do stuff like not using the Bible it feels uncharacteristic -- but really it's that it doesn't feel like church.
And I said, "And if we do lectionary, as we all agreed seems like a good idea, then I win."
Laura Ruth said that we wouldn't have to use the Bible, that if there was for example a Rilke poem that was spot-on relevant then we could do that. I was willing to concede allowing that.
Honestly, I'm not the biggest fan of doing non-Biblical Sacred Texts at CWM, though it feels slightly more appropriate there.
I couldn't remember what it was in particular that I wanted to change about Communion. I also said that having come off a couple rounds of communion-fail, I was feeling much more positive on this communion liturgy than last time when I was feeling like, "Oh, this is so bland, I want it to be more like CWM or something."
We also talked about the Prayers and how compartmentalizing the Concerns is problematic because of how do you define "community" but that if we're consistent about stating the compartments (and the responses!) both aloud and in the bulletin that will make it a lot easier for everyone.
And we talked about maybe adding an opening hymn.
Laura Ruth had said the feedback session would only last 15 minutes. Haha. 45 minutes later we were about done. I mean, come on, I was there...
Before service, Laura Ruth and I talked briefly and then she said she had to go off and do stuff to prepare for service, and I said yeah, I know not to expect to get real interaction with her around service 'cause she's got stuff going on, which well means ever since I only see her here. She was like, "I didn't know you wanted to interact with me more." I said there wasn't anything in particular I wanted to talk about, and I know that if I needed pastoral care I could ask (and I said that I don't need pastoral care right now but that if I do this summer she will totally be my go-to person since Molly's on sabbatical and Tiffany's on maternity leave), I had just been realizing that I never get any real time with her. So she said okay let's get coffee. (Of course, now that I've set this in motion I have no idea what I would talk to her about.)