On August 8th, when we finally worship together in the sanctuary you will see we have rearranged the furniture! This is a temporary experiment that has grown out of our “Going Deeper” conversations in Zoom breakout rooms following our online services during the pandemic.
To be honest, I never expected much from worshipping on Zoom. My best hope was that we could manage to stay together as a parish and keep worshipping together. But, as she is wont to do, the Spirit uses change to teach us something new, and helps us see what matters most, to think in new ways about beloved, long-standing practices. I certainly never expected that Zoom worship would help us to recognize a shared longing: we want to see one another.
This longing arose among us when I asked, “What specific church practice or habit or custom have you practiced in this time of Covid that you want to continue?” In the discussion that followed, we agreed to shift the pews “choir style” like the front area of many large churches, so we can see one another.
For some, seeing the shifted space may come with a gasp of delight—I witnessed such a gasp—while for others, it might be a bit of a shock.
What you see is not permanent. We may go back to forward-facing pews. We may replace the pews with chairs (which we can arrange in a ‘choir’ style, a circle, or facing forward). We will discuss this as a congregation, and we will give ourselves at least six months to settle in a bit, to listen to one another and God.
As you respond, and you sit with this change, both the first time and in a few months when the novelty has worn off, I would like each of you to ask yourselves: How does this way of worshipping together connect you to God and your beloved kin and neighbors in a new way?
Space matters. How we worship matters. It tells us something about who we are, what we love, what we need when we take this time each Sunday morning to be together with God and kin.
The new thing we learn may not be comfortable, or it could be surprising and lovely. It may take some time to learn this new thing, to settle in and register what new thing God is opening in our lives. But learn something new we will, if we ask the question and listen carefully to ourselves and God for the answer(s).
— The Rev’d Maria McDowell