We’re calling it “Unplugged,” but week one felt more like “Unhinged” to me. It seemed like a good idea when we first thought of it…to move out of the sanctuary into a smaller, more informal room for a few weeks of Sunday worship this summer, but I confess I’m having a little bit of trouble adjusting.
The original thought was that it’s never a bad idea to mix things up, try something new, get out of regular patterns, right? Given how DC becomes a ghost town in July and August anyway, the thought was that a more intimate worship space for a smaller group would help us feel connected to each other. We thought we’d try some new music, our kids would be with us in worship, and, most importantly, the coffee pot would be actually in the worship space.
To the church’s credit, everyone has been game and, in fact, very supportive, and the first week went very smoothly. So…I have been trying to figure out exactly why I feel so uneasy.
I’m always talking about how healthy change is good, that we should be ready to live with discomfort for the opportunity to see things in a new way. It turns out, though, that I didn’t anticipate just how much I rely on the regular trappings of worship to feel comfortable.Some of the changes in worship for the summer include the fact that there’s no pulpit—just a music stand. The pastors are not wearing robes or any vestments at all. We’re worshipping “in the round,” sitting very close to each other. And…the sermon is conversational and interactive.
You have to understand, I grew up going to the kind of church where they sing “Jesus is my boyfriend” music—you know, choruses with a band up front. My young, rebellious stage took the form of embracing liturgical worship; it’s how I feel most connected to God. I am beginning to think, however, that I may have fallen into the trap of relying on some of those formal elements as protection, or maybe some distance between me and the congregation. I wondered about this when I realized that I felt very exposed up front with no pulpit, no robe, and no manuscript!
I confess I still feel dis-ease as we move toward week two in this grand experiment. I just don’t like feeling so…exposed. But, as one long-time church member told me with a smirk after noting my discomfort, “Don’t forget…change is good!”