Yesterday was another busy day. There was the time change, and then church, where I very much enjoyed the early service soloist. Then I went to discuss next week’s music (I’m the soloist) with the pianist and learned that she was going on vacation.
Now, I had gone through a bit of a struggle over the Palm Sunday music. For one thing, the original soloist wasn’t ready in time. Then there was a bit of theological discussion about the appropriate music. Then I had all those health issues and couldn’t sing the high notes on the pieces that spring to people’s minds (“Les Rameaux” and “The Holy City” were springing to people’s minds around here, in case you’re wondering). Then there was the question of whether the congregation would be happy with pieces sung in foreign languages.
Well, I dropped by Sunday School to tell the ladies that I had agreed to serve as a Rocker in the nursery, and went to the nursery to say that I just needed to speak with the sub piano player and would be right back. The sub immediately vetoed all classical pieces on the very reasonable grounds that they weren’t in her repertoire and she couldn’t get them ready in a week. She had a Spanish alternative to suggest, which I vetoed on the less-reasonable grounds that a) we weren’t at all sure about foreign languages for this congregation and b) practically the whole song is on one note, so it wouldn’t be fun to sing. We settled on a simple hymn in English.
But during these negotiations, it was gradually borne in upon me that the bell choir was setting up.
People standing around with bells and music on stands — that was the main clue. I had entirely forgotten that the bells were playing.
I raced back to the nursery, where fortunately there were no babies to be rocked, grabbed my purse which I had left there, pounced on a couple of possible singers in the hallway to fill up the April special music calendar, and got back to the bells in time for practice. Then was the set-up in the sanctuary and back to the choir room for the choir run-through, and then another church service.
We heard that every Sunday in Lent is a little Easter, so I took some time, after I got home and made lunch and got some business done, to read a novel in the lovely spring weather on the porch. Actually, it was too cold to sit in the lovely spring weather, so I had a bit of a walk instead, and then read a bit indoors.
Then came the worship task force meeting. We had some discussion about Whither Modern Worship, and determined a direction, some good resources, and a Next Step goal: to plan a cool, different, new, multisensory service for Pentecost and see how appalled people are.
The media guy and I have a little difference of opinion. I like him, and I don’t think he dislikes me, but he seems to feel that we are in need of plenty of electronic stuff to please “the X-ers” and “the millennials.” He is the first person I’ve met who actually says those terms. I feel that, a) nobody that age is going to get up early enough to be in church at 8:45, and b) the young people aren’t as impressed by stuff on screens as he is, being as how they spend their entire lives in front of screens. They might like something more IRL.
I forced the issue a little bit. We discussed the average age of the current early service congregation — 30s, he thought, but when we began listing people, we had to go with a range of 40 to 70+, with an average age of about 60. The teens and students are sleeping at 8:45, and the people in their 20s and 30s are getting the kids ready for church. The people who get to church at 8:45 are older folks who want to finish church early either so they can get to the golf course or the lake, or so they can get back to the Senior Center to rest before lunch.
The media guy felt that we could change that if we were groovy enough. The pastor assured us that we were saying Whither Worship for both services. It seems to him that the early service has been fixed and people are now equally happy with both (no doubt you recall that the fixing of the early service was the initial goal of the committee), so we can move on to post-modern worship for all.
Accordingly, we are planning to have some cool elements in the Pentecost service.
This is slightly complicated by the fact that Pentecost this year is on Mother’s Day. Last year, the UMW designed a service focusing on women — a woman preaching, an anthem sung by just the women of the choir… I think that was it.
The pastor was astounded to learn that the UMW was planning to do the same this year. He vetoed the woman preaching part, since he was planning on preaching something pretty snazzy for Pentecost. I suggested that we sing Pentecost hymns written by women. I don’t know about the anthem, but I was able to find half a dozen nice hymns that fit the bill. We also thought about liturgical dance, woodwinds, a multilingual recitation of The Lord’s Prayer, and a bit of drama.
Some people hate change. Even good change. I am like those lab animals which will do things differently just for the sake of change, whether they get any extra kibble or not. This is one reason that a lot of churches have two services: one for those who like change and one for those who hate it. I argued that we have already done a number of multisensory, multicultural, participatory (current buzzwords in postmodern worship) things, and people have kind of liked it.
We’ll see what happens.