How do you get ready for church these days?
We are rapidly approaching Advent - we feel it in the wind in the trees, the plummeting temperatures, the reminder that winter is coming. These (Northern hemisphere!) signs help to tether us with our sense of longing as we anticipate the birth of Christ. Advent begins on November 29 - and we are getting ready.
There are probably many things you are longing for at the moment. The sense of normalcy being high among them. And perhaps, you remember those halcyon days when you used to think about what time you had to leave home to drive to church? Factoring in parking time? Or wondered about the weather outside and what you were going to wear? Did you spend some time chivvying children? Walking the dog? Getting tasks done? These days for many of us it may be that we prepare for church by sliding out of bed in our PJs, grab a coffee and move to the sofa. After all, even 11am on a Sunday can feel quite early :)
But here’s a suggestion. Could you find a way to differentiate the ‘worship’ hour from all other times you switch on zoom? We are all so very, very tired of being in front of screens - especially for an experience which SHOULD be social. Church is a time when we SHOULD be with our friends and community. When we SHOULD have space to not only sing and pray together, and focus on God’s word, but also to laugh and chat and be present to each other’s news and stories. As we head towards Advent let's listen to that sense of longing and use it to focus our attention.
So this Sunday, if you are going to zoom in for church: how about pausing at 10.50am and maybe light a candle. Or maybe change your clothes. Or maybe sit somewhere different. How about making sure you are logged on by 10.55am so you can see the announcement slides and hear all the prelude music (which starts around 10.57 normally). If you can log on even earlier, people gather and pray around 10.30am every week for the service and then hang out until the service begins: sometimes people (especially the kids) bring 'show and tell'. There are always people who linger at the end for a while as well to catch up. And indeed there is the chat box on zoom which you are welcome to use! Share your thoughts. Share the peace. Share your feedback on the sermon! Just like whispering to your pew neighbor in live church :)
In order to mark the seasons, during Advent, the people who are leading, preaching and celebrating in the Chapel will be 'vesting': wearing cassock and surplice. This isn't our normal practice but it's a lovely way to differentiate the season! We'll be back in jeans after Advent...
In addition, we'll be decorating the Chapel with origami 'peace cranes'. Why not make some decorations for your home so that you match! Also we will be collecting any excess cranes for the chapel - watch out for details, and start folding! We suggest using paper bags from your grocery shopping.
And, if you feel able and safe, why not plan to come to ‘live’ church periodically? Or to a garden church? In the Chapel we are well-spaced and have air purifiers, masks, limited numbers and hand sanitizer. In garden churches, people space out and wear masks to sing and often linger to eat a meal together. Sign up on a Wednesday to guarantee a place!
In other news:
Did you watch our deacon Katie do the diaconal ‘distribution of the elements’ on Sunday? Did you notice the other things that she did that were a little different to the ways I do them? If you missed it you can catch up on our YouTube of the service here (see around 49 minutes for a summary of what is different about a Deacon and a Priest). While you are on YouTube, why not subscribe to our channel as well? And then invite a curious friend to check us out by watching this week! We do a 'live' broadcast at 5pm each Sunday which one of our team hosts and is online to answer questions and welcome people!
Keep praying for Amy, David and Quauhtli as they also make progress towards ordination. They are all studying hard and we are excited to have so many ‘deacons in waiting’ at Incarnation.
Do you have any news this week? Why not shoot me an email? I'd love to hear how you are getting on.
With a grateful heart