from Mike Kinman, Rector of All Saints Church
Our liturgy is a glorious dance, each step leading to the next. Because we are a church that embraces a multiplicity of cultures and races, it can be done as a salsa or a step-dance, krumping or a waltz. At our best, there is plenty of room for the Holy Spirit to move but there is also an intentionality, a swelling crescendo that leads to meeting at the Eucharistic table.
We hear the stories of our ancestors in scripture, stories which often sounds curiously familiar to our lives of today. In the sermon we seek the intersection of all that life and in the prayers we offer all that life to God. And then we begin to approach Christ’s table. That table where whoever you are and wherever you are on your journey of faith a place exists and is made for you.
We have to prepare to come to the table. And we remember that Jesus said:
“If you are coming to the altar and you remember that your sibling has something against you … first go and be reconciled with your sibling, then come and offer your gift.”
And so the first thing we do is examine all our relationships – with God and with one another. We confess where relationship has been broken. In the words of absolution, we celebrate that our relationship with God is now whole. In the peace, we celebrate that our relationships with one another are whole as well. Then together we approach the table with the gifts of “bread, wine and ourselves, our souls and bodies.” We lay all that on the table with Christ and God does what God does – breaks it open, blesses it, and turns it into something new which we then receive, which binds us together, and with which we are sent out into the world to love and to serve.
It is a beautiful dance, with deep theological purpose to each step. And yet in most churches, about halfway through the dance we pause and say:
And now, a word from our sponsor.
I’m talking, of course, about the announcements or greetings.
The announcements are wonderful things. They are expressions of hospitality and invitations for everyone to participate more fully in the life of the community. They are the conversation around the family table where we share how our day has been, welcome Tamika’s friend from school to the table, and talk about what’s going to happen in the next week. We could absolutely frame that as part of what is being offered on Christ’s table, but they can also feel jarring – so different are they from the rest of the liturgy surrounding them.
One of our values at All Saints from our VISIONS work is “trying on” – experiencing something new for a season and seeing how it goes. So that’s what we’re going to do with the announcements. Starting this Sunday and through the end of June, we’re going to try on moving them to the beginning of the liturgy –before the start – to see how that feels. To see if it improves our experience of worship and what we are offering to God.
Announcements for the four Sunday services will begin at 7:25, 8:50, 11:05 a.m. and 12:55 p.m., respectively. Recognizing that some will not be there to hear them, we are adding the Action Table announcement to the printed liturgy and encouraging everyone to read the announcements not only in the service leaflet but on the multiple other platforms where they are offered (including the website and weekly “This Week At All Saints” emails).
As we come together in worship over the next few weeks, attend to how it feels. Are you experiencing Eucharist differently and, if so, how? Is it more difficult to keep up with what is happening in the congregation or are you managing OK. Make a point of talking to people with newer faces and asking them if they are getting everything they need to feel welcome at All Saints Church. Toward the end of June, we’ll see what this “trying on” has gotten us and figure out where to go from here.