I want to thank each one of you for your prayers, well wishes, and support as UCU and Richmond Congregational joined together for a fantastic trip to Boston last weekend. All went safely and almost entirely according to plan, and the young people ate up the chance to explore the city via the T (subway) and some looooong walks.
Part of the reason for the trek to Boston came from the ancient understanding that God calls us to new places (think Abraham, Moses, Ruth). Whether the relocations are permanent or temporary, God often changes the scenery to grow us and teach us new things about ourselves, our place in the world, our callings, and our relationships. How naive I was to think that only the youth might learn something from this adventure!
I’ll let them share their own reflections, but some major ah-has came during our Sunday morning worship experience at Old West Church in downtown Boston. Despite their urban location and large, historic building, their worshipping congregation is typically smaller than ours, as is their membership roster. But they have found a way to make a large space warm, welcoming, and dynamic. After removing their pews several years ago, the congregation worships in the round with just a small table for (weekly) communion at the center. Then in the very large margins of the space are stations filled with artwork, candles, and stories to reflect upon during what they call “open space,” which follows the sermon. The youth loved the opportunity to reflect and participate in different ways (especially lighting candles and coloring). I loved watching each congregant choose their own activity, whether quietly listening to the music or using the time to joyfully greet a neighbor they hadn’t seen in a while.
As “luck” would have it, our worship ministry has already been planning to add some stations to our Advent services this year, and this coming Sunday, we will have some interactive moments to explore environmental connection and stewardship, a core value of our congregation. I thank you for your willingness to explore new ways of worshipping. I also invite you to think about how we might like to adapt our space and/or some of our worship forms to make them more accessible and meaningful to folks with a wide variety of learning and listening styles. Worship ministry, Church Council, Trustees, and myself would welcome your feedback.
With hope and gratitude,