Occasionally, worship is planned around a theme or a story from scripture, and then worship looks and feels a little different. The structure always remains the same: Gathering, Word, Meal, and Sending, but one part or another might take a different shape. The 2017 New England Synod Assembly focused on the story of the Good Samaritan (with the theme “Get Off Your Donkey” because, as Bishop Hazelwood puts it, “Nothing happens until we get off our donkeys.” The Good Samaritan gets off his donkey to help his neighbor, so in worship we explored, “Who Is Our Neighbor?” In hearing stories and working at stations in the sanctuary where we got to know some “Wicked Good Neighbors” near and far, in our time and before our time, we asked who we are called to be neighbor to, and we prayed that God would turn our hearts to the needs of our neighbors.
The creation story from Genesis shaped our Care for Creation worship. We heard the creation story as it’s told in Godly Play, but with gigantic illustrations for each of the days of creation. We gloried in the goodness of creation, using all our senses. We planted flowers, wrote creation prayers, and heard a “prelude” of nature sounds rather than organ music.
With God at its center, worship has focused on Water, Bread, Light, the Parable of the Sower and other themes. The worship space always looks and feels a little different when we explore new forms through which to praise God.
At one Saturday service, but more often with our confirmands, we’ve celebrated Waffle Church. We learned about it from our Lutheran sisters and brothers in Christ in Brooklyn who created St. Lydia’s Dinner Church and then added Waffle Church. We gather to prepare the meal together, including setting the table for Holy Communion. When all is ready, we light a candle, sing “Christ, Be Our Light,” and share the body and blood of Christ. Then we continue our meal of waffles, bacon and fruit, and while we eat, we hear a story from scripture and are led in discussion about it. Afterwards, we all clean up, regather for prayers and a blessing, and leave the aroma of waffles and maple syrup in the air. An adult at the Saturday service observed that “It didn’t look like church, but it felt like church.”