Worship in Our New Church
These days we are settling into our new church building. It is a thrilling period in the life of our parish and certainly a lot of fun. But it also raises questions and brings challenges, as do any changes or transitions in life. Here are five that have stimulated some discussion around the parish.
- The Position of our Musicians.
One of the most noticeable changes in our weekend liturgy could well be the position of our band members. In our old church they were congregated in a corner beside the Altar, more or less out of sight. Now they are not, the new space won’t allow for such an arrangement. But that is not the only reason for the reconfiguration. Our band members are not only musicians, they are worship leaders, and their more prominent placement, during sung worship, provides them the platform to lead, much like a cantor in a traditional church stands at the front of the altar to lead hymns.
The concern has been raised that this could be perceived as a performance. I would suggest, however, that it is only a performance if the congregation is not worshipping. Admittedly, we still have some tweaking to do before we get this entirely right, so hopefully everyone will be patient with us. Meanwhile, why not take this occasion to examine your heart when it comes to the music. Are you merely listening or are you worshipping through your singing ?
- Broadcast in the Café
Our new café is a beautiful and inviting place to spend time. And part of the concept behind it is that it provides a venue for unchurched people to join us, hear the message, and grow in their comfort level of being at church. The decision was made, however, that we would not broadcast the Liturgy of the Eucharist there. We will broadcast the Liturgy of the Word, including the message, and then discontinue the broadcast. At one level, this seems more respectful. At another level, it helps underscore the point that the Café is not the ultimate destination even for the unchurched. We want them in church and participating fully in the Eucharist. The Café is just the starting point. Meanwhile, we will be broadcasting other programming in the Café during that part of the Mass, like our Small Group curriculum, as a way of further engaging our guests and going deeper.
Broadcast on the Concourse and in the Cry Loft is intended for people who are attending Mass while keeping their small children with them, and the entire Mass will be broadcast in those locations and Communion will be available.
- Communion Stations
A new seating configuration requires new communion procedures. This is very much a work in progress and we very much appreciate your patience as we continue to discern what works best. Clearly we haven’t figured that out yet.
- Kneeling During Mass
Nativity was built in 1970 without kneelers. I have no idea what the thinking was at that time. Hey, it was the 70’s! In more recent years we couldn’t have added kneelers, even if we’d wanted to, in view of space considerations. Now we have kneelers in our new church and we encourage people to use them, especially during the Eucharistic Prayer. Of course, if you can’t kneel or would prefer not to, you are perfectly welcome to sit. For those who do kneel, you are adapting an ancient posture for worship, widely used at Mass from the earliest days of Christianity.
- Genuflecting before the Tabernacle
Another ancient custom is genuflecting (kneeling briefly on one’s right knee) before the Tabernacle as a sign of respect to the Blessed Sacrament reserved there. When Nativity was built the Tabernacle was in the chapel, so no one genuflected in the church. The Tabernacle in the new church has been placed at the center of the Altar, and genuflection is in order. This is properly done only when taking your seat and leaving it at the end of Mass. It is not necessary when approaching the Altar at Communion. Again, if you are unable to do so, simply pause and bow, from the neck.
Someone noted that in opening the new space we are pushing the envelope both ways, adapting new technology as well as more progressive worship while layering in more ancient customs as well.
That’s on purpose. We call it Dynamic Orthodoxy.