Our worship begins a half-hour earlier this morning with a different order of worship (here's the bulletin for this Sunday). It’s a program we plan to follow over the summer, starting this Sunday and continuing until September 17, when 10:30am worship returns and a more traditional format is resumed. The change comes in response to a felt request over the past few months. In conversations I’ve had with you, and in surveys we’ve conducted, there was distinct need for fellowship — people want to connect with one another before and after worship. By moving the service a half-hour earlier during the summer, we felt that we would have more time with others in our church, as well as with each other on a Sunday afternoon. The Sabbath is important: it’s an important time for worship, but it’s also an important time to spend deepening our human relationships. “All real living is meeting,” the Jewish theologian Martin Buber said in 1973.
Yet, as a church and as a people, worship to God is vital to our being. How can we meet with one another if we ourselves are not renewed in the act of worship to God? Or, as my mother says, “you cannot pour from an empty pitcher.” We re-formatted worship to shorten it so that the time for meeting one another is respected, but also emphasized the areas where people feel the most connection with God and the sacred in worship. Our announcements will now be made during our fellowship so that all may respond in conversation together. Our call to worship will usually be a short song that brings us together, pulling us out of the normality of day and into the joy that is worship together. Our children’s message will be right up front, when we open our worship with a Scripture reading, a story, and a prayer that frames the entire service, with everyone as active participants.
For some of us, this may be a welcome change. For some others, it’s not. We are church together, however: called by the Spirit, we gather in worship, fellowship, and action to be a very real and present body of Christ in our community. That's why we're here, and we're glad you're a part of it. Thank you for all your gifts, your giving, and your grace.
Shalom, Pastor Ryan