This morning, due to a family gathering at the other end of town, we arranged to be absent from our normal congregation. We decided to attend worship at the Seattle Temple Corps
of the Salvation Army
, as it was fairly close to the family gathering location. My wife grew up as a Salvationist, playing cornet and alto horn in the band, and she was able to renew acquaintances with several people she knew. I was looking toward something a bit different, with the full brass band and a very musically-oriented congregation.
Something a bit different was what we got, but not in the way I had anticipated. We were greeted by the Corps Officer (The S.A. equivalent of Senior Pastor) who told us that things would not be normal. Specifically, the worship planning committee had felt led, as part of Lent, to give up music for one of the Sundays of Lent. The Corps Sergeant-Major (head lay-leader) explained that they were very blessed in the area of music, to the point of sometimes taking it for granted. They decided to focus on other manifestations of worship for one Sunday.
The youth made a series of videos interviewing members of the congregation with the questions "Who do we worship?" "Why do we worship?" and "How do we worship?" which were played through the course of the service. Choral readings, responsive readings, and "visual hymns" peppered the order of worship. "Visual Hymn?" you ask? Think pictures from the Hubble and shots of mountains, streams, etc. with the lyrics of "How Great Thou Art," but no music.
The sermon was titled "When the Music Fades..." and focused on Micah 6: 2 - 8, where we are reminded that God
requires us to "act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with [our] God." We were asked the same question Matt Redmond's pastor asked (the question that led to the writing of "Heart of Worship.") "When we come through the doors on Sunday, what are we bringing as an offering to God?" We need to be making ourselves living sacrifices each and every day. (Side note: One problem with living sacrifices is that they keep crawling off of the altar.)
While this wasn't the kind of "different" I was looking for when we stepped through the doors this morning, it made me think anew about what worship is. I doubt that we'll try this any time soon with our congregation...but I feel that this would be an interesting thought experiment to discuss with your worship planning crew.