Monday, June 13, 2011

Worshipping on holidays

While worshipping on holidays, we attended a Day of Pentecost Holy Communion Service, which certainly surprised us. It surprised us because we were expecting a more traditional liturgy than the one on that particular Sunday. The title of the Service was “Fire Dance A Liturgy for Pentecost.” Although we arrived a bit late, we saw no official liturgical dancers though—so the title was a tad misleading. However, in the pews many—not all—parishioners were positively “happy-clappy,” and “sway as you sing” types. I found it quite amazing—surprised by the Spirit among us perhaps—that there were granddads and grannies grooving to the songs equally as much as the younger generations.

The liturgy was definitely rather unique. The traditional parts of the liturgy were replaced with—interspersed throughout—litanies, songs, Scripture readings from Acts 1 & 2, poems, sermon, prayers, and a mix of contemporary and traditional Holy Communion liturgy—Great Thanksgiving, Eucharistic Prayer, etc.

The music was primarily rock, blues, and folk-rock, with a four-piece band consisting of: lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and percussion. Both the songs and poems contained mostly implicit rather than explicit references to the Holy Spirit and/or Pentecost, with the exception of Peter Scholte’s “We are One in the Spirit.” The opening song was Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic,” and another familiar song was Bruce Cockburn’s “Waiting for a Miracle.”

As I reflect on the Service, what likely surprised us most was interspersing the poems along with the readings from Acts. Neither of us would have thought to do that in a Holy Communion Day of Pentecost Service—yet, it was another way to celebrate the Holy Spirit’s creativity at work through the word delivered in this form among the faith community. Reflecting further, it strikes me that many of our traditional hymns are also in fact poems. Indeed, several Scripture passages are poems in, for example, the Psalms, Isaiah, and the Prologue of John’s Gospel, and the Christ hymn-poem in Philippians—and were originally spoken and/or sung by the faith community during public worship. As clergy, it is always educational when the Holy Spirit teaches us when attending Worship Services in other parishes while on holidays. 

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