Obviously the daily posting thing has completely fizzled out! It's been quite a week, since the end of November we've been caught up in the Advent thing, including lots of services on Sunday, all of which went well. Having six Churches in the sticks means that we try to offer a broad range of events and styles in our worship, and Sunday was a very good example of the diversity of our Team...
8.30am was a Book of Common Prayer (1662) Holy Communion, a quiet start to the day, well attended and a gentle start to quite a manic day. Over my years in ministry I've come to love the traditional services we offer, so beautifully constructed all those years ago, yet still with a depth and even a freshness to the liturgy.
10.30am was a Contemporary Language Holy Communion service, from the Common Worship prayer book which is the mainstay of the C of E. Having come from a 'free form' tradition, in the 'Charismatic renewal' branch of the Church, I found the structure of Liturgical worship was quite liberating. In fact, this was one of the reasons I joined the Church of England in the late 1980s and was confirmed at University. There is something about the discipline of following certain readings through a three year cycle, of using set prayers which are full of scripture, of keeping a certain order in liturgy that I have grown to appreciate and enjoy. The music in this service is a mix of traditional and contemporary worship songs and the balance of older and newer styles is one which has a richness and depth which my early experience in the Church didn't offer.
3.00pm was a Christingle service, a certain amount of organised chaos! We filled one of our smaller village Churches with people of all ages, including lots of children. The 'Festival of the Flaming Oranges' as it's known (by me) follows a vaguely liturgical shape but has lots of songs, some of which I played on the guitar, and movement, joy, informality and, of course, oranges stuck in candles which we give to the younger members of the congregation and light, and endeavour to stop them setting each other, and themselves, on fire. Fun!
6.00pm was our completely informal service, known as 'Team Evening Worship' which has a regular core of people, not a large group, but enough to make it worth the effort, even at the end of a long day! Again a mix of hymns and worship songs, with me leading on the guitar and our excellent music director assisting in the worship leading. We prayed, quite a lot, in small groups, and read some Scripture, and I shared a thought about waiting and the meaning of Advent which I might get around to summarising in another post!
Now spending five or six hours in Church may not seem terribly onerous (although to some it might seem like purgatory) and you might wonder why this seems so tiring! I find as a minister, though, that it takes a lot of emotional and spiritual energy to lead for this amount of time. It's not so much the 'being up front' aspect, ie putting this all together and trying to keep it together for the congregation, but the engagement with people, with the Worship itself and with the meaning behind what we are doing which can be both energising and draining at the same time. As a worship leader, or more accurately a 'lead worshipper' (happy to discuss that one if anyone wants to) there is a certain amount of investment in the whole process of preparing and officiating at worship, I want to lead well, to facilitate worship for the people in the Church, and at the same time to participate in the worship of a God who is both awesome and intimate. To consciously be in God's presence and bring others to the same place. My experience of twenty years of this as a 'leader' is that it's a responsibility and a calling to be taken seriously, as well as a deeply rewarding part of ministry.
But it is tiring, and along with a load of other things which have happened in the last week or so, I'm suffering from a bit of exhaustion - not aided by my daughter having a fever and not sleeping well last night!
As and when I get some time, I will post more. Now I need to prepare a funeral.