I've always enjoyed worshiping in communities and churches that were not my home base. As you may know, my family (and studio) moved from Pittsburgh to the Detroit area this summer. This has allowed a "season" of such visiting. There is much goodwill in Michigan and every single church we have worshiped in we have felt welcomed. Despite that through this process I've once again realized that sometimes you are a foreigner to the special rhythm, ritual, and even language of worship. We have experienced several things that have stood out in mind:
- a parishioner patting my hand when I did something out of order in worship. It was the type of touch that reminded me that I was welcomed.
- explanations as to how Communion elements would be served and why it was done that way.
- description of the worship music printed in the bulletin prior to the order of worship....enlightening the reader to the history, meaning of the music and words and why they were relevant to this day.
- lastly, yesterday prior to worship we experienced a verbal explanation of the music that would be included in worship. The anthem was later referred to in the sermon as to why it enhanced the meaning of the message. (BTW this is the song that was used and it was not only pleasing musically but the visual that it conjured up made it more powerful...."Stained Glass" by Joseph Martin and Heather Sorenson may be read about and heard here.).
Why do we write about this today? It makes me wonder how and when the visual messages of things like ministry stoles are included. Sometimes the message is very clear. But there are other instances when if you don't know the meaning of the symbol or for example why the sanctuary is decked in blue during Advent it's not going to help make an association to deepen our worshiping of the Lord. I encourage you to incorporate the how and why of the visual cues of worship via the written or the spoken word. May the visual connection not be foreign!