Week of the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost 2020
Dear Friends in Christ:
We’ve been undertaking worship at home for some eight months now. Given the trajectory of the pandemic in what is clear is a nationwide intensified outbreak, we are likely to be worshiping at home for some time to come, even as we are also now holding brief services outdoors every two weeks in conjunction with the collection of food for the AFAC food pantry.
Worship at home is for many of us a solitary venture, even if we share common resources. I engage the materials by myself on Sunday mornings just before turning my attention to creating a first draft of my sermon for the next Sunday. I preach by myself in the pastor’s office in the church focused on the tiny blue-gray dot that is the camera lens on my laptop computer.
You may have your own solitary practices at home, or do home worship with your spouse or your family as a “pod” safely protected, but disconnected from others in our congregation. Even if your family, as a small gathering, worships together at home, it cannot compare with our full assemblies that we have known and enjoyed on Sunday mornings – and will again, we pray, sooner rather than later! It can seem so long ago….
So, we undertake worship at home separated from each other as a congregation. But providing resources for worship at home is far from a solitary endeavor. In fact, it is very much a communal effort of members and staff at Resurrection Church. Some members have wondered with me about how our home worship resources are crafted and produced. It is indeed a labor-intensive effort that is a focal point for our life together as a congregation, even if those efforts are largely unseen by most members of our church.
By way of illustrating the communal nature of this endeavor, here’s a description of how we put it all together to make the home worship resources available to you each week. Hymns are chosen well in advance and orders of worship are drafted under my care and in consultation with members of the Worship and Music Committee. Our Office Administrator, Monika Carney, then puts the well-crafted bulletin together. Member, Gordon Lathrop, conceived the basic order of worship that we employ even before I arrived on the scene as pastor. He also writes weekly the brief summary paragraph in the bulletin that helpfully weaves the themes of the lectionary readings together for our reflection. Member, Gail Ramshaw, beautifully crafts our prayers of intercession which speak to the current needs and opportunities of our days in church, nation and world, drawing on the themes of the lectionary passages for each Sunday. I should also say that Gordon and Gail’s resources are made available to everyone in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and are used in some cases even internationally.
Member, Kim Harriz, is the one who makes the calls to secure other members to serve as readers and leaders of prayer. She has done an excellent job of recruiting a wide and diverse representation of RELC members, sometimes whole families, and sometimes members who have not taken leadership roles in worship before. Our member readers and prayer leaders then create their video recordings to be uploaded for editing for the home worship video.
Our interim music director, Barbara Verdile, creates her lovely musical meditations and renditions of the psalm in our church’s nave. She also rehearses with our choir each week, and choir members then generate their own individual video and audio recordings of the hymns and anthems which are then sent to Barbara who weaves it all together for a single, ensemble choral experience online.
Once the individual video files are created by me, our readers and prayer leaders and Barbara and our choristers, then one of our videographers – either members Carson Brooke, Daniel Cuesta or Lizzy Schoen – puts the video and audio files together, editing it all into the watch-through video which accompanies the bulletin materials, and individual video files.
Also accompanying the resources for home worship are Angie Brooke’s weekly children’s messages and Amanda Lindamood’s weekly resources for faith formation at home. I commend these resources for use by adults, too, as they are salutary not just for our children and youth!
Once the resources are compiled, Barbara and I take a final look at the worship video, suggest any editorial changes, and ultimately approve it for distribution. That’s when member Chris Smith makes our many resources available on our church website and member Paul Bastuscheck crafts a message with links to the materials in the Constant Contact message that goes out to our members. Office Administrator, Monika, also sends out hard copies of our home worship resources to those members who do not have access to computers or internet.
So, you can see that crafting and compiling and sending our home worship resources each week is quite the team effort, again, largely unseen by most congregation members. I’ve tried here to give a comprehensive overview of the work we do each week. Kindly let me know if I have overlooked any parts of the process and any of the participants!
Thus, I want to thank our unsung heroes of home worship at RELC for their many, many efforts, for all the hours and energy expended over the course of these eight months and counting. Thousand thanks to our many worship team leaders and those in the choir who sing and the many members who have served as readers and prayer leaders! And thanks be to God for these efforts. It is popularly said that the word “liturgy” can basically be understood as “the work of the people.” This reality is very much conveyed and embodied in the many members who offer themselves in the service of our current practices of worship at home. It’s far from a solitary endeavor! It’s also true that many hands make for lighter work, for which I am thankful.
My prayer is that this recounting of what goes into making our home worship resources available each week will deepen and enhance your experience and practice of worship at home. My prayer is also that your awareness of the communal nature of our shared efforts will help you feel connected with other members of our congregation even when worship at home might otherwise be a rather solitary endeavor that happens apart from our longed-for assemblies in person.
With deep and abiding appreciation in Christ Jesus for all who lead and serve our home worship life,
Pastor Jonathan Linman