The following worship planning notes are for use with the Laity Sunday 2016 Worship Resources — Order of Worship developed by Jodi Cataldo (Director, Laity in Leadership); Taylor Burton-Edwards (Director, Worship Resources); Dawn Chesser (Director, Preaching Ministries); and Jackson Henry (Director, Music Ministries)
See additional resources for use with this service:
About the Prayer of Illumination
The prayer of illumination acts as a kind of “bearings” in this service, shifting the energy from the act of entering toward an act of centering on the hearing the word of God as it will come to us through Scripture and testimony.
This is accomplished only partly by the words of the prayer. It is primarily accomplished by how the prayer is led. It’s important to start not only with similar words as the ending of the song you have just sung, but also at the same volume, the same speed, and the same level of energy (whether the boldness of “Now Thank We All Our God” or what may be the more intimate tone of a final verse of “How Great Is Our God” sung a capella and relatively slowly) as whatever came immediately before. As the words of the prayer will shift focus from praise of God to gathering ourselves to listen to God, it’s just as important that your voice and phrasing through the prayer do the same, shifting its volume, speed and energy in anticipation of what comes next—singing the first two stanzas of “We Are the Church.”
Likewise, consider accompanying the prayer with background music that starts on the chord progression of the first song you sang, and moves to the chord progression of “We Are the Church.”
About the Acts of Thanksgiving
Acts of thanksgiving, although stated as an integral part of our Basic Pattern of Worship, are an uncommon or commonly truncated element when Communion is not celebrated. Today is an opportunity to model and explore what they can be if you are not celebrating Holy Communion.
About the Invitation to Thanksgiving
An act of invitation to thanksgiving is probably needed in most settings, much as the Prayer for Illumination, to help transition the energy from listening, commitment, and prayer in the previous movement (Word and Response) toward the energy of offering ourselves to God in thanksgiving for all God has done and is doing and will do to save us and renew the universe.
The principles of transition are the same. Match the contents, volume, speed, and energy of what came before, then move them to what is needed for what comes next.
In this case, “Go Ye, Go Ye into the World” is already a rather energetic song, made more engaging if it has been sung in a round for the final verse as suggested above. Still, it is a song of exhortation, urging people to act. Part of that action has been our prayers for the church and the world.
Now we move from prayer to thanksgiving, still in the spirit of going in the awareness that Christ goes with us. Exhortation (the song), prayer (the prayers we have just prayed), and thanksgiving are all different kinds of energy. Give attention not only to the words used in the invitation to thanksgiving, but to the kind of energy with which these words are spoken.
About the Pardon before the Acts of Thanksgiving
Anyone, lay or clergy, may lead an act of confession and pardon. If the leader of the act of pardon is the pastor, use “you are forgiven.” If the leader is a layperson, use “we are forgiven.”
About Serving Communion
One of the ways to maintain the flow of the service when you celebrate Communion is to ensure you have an efficient way to serve the elements. You don’t have to make people wait in long lines or for long periods of time in their seats. The typical amount of time for people to be able to receive both bread and cup without a sense of rush is 10-12 seconds. This means you can easily serve five to six people per minute. Calculate the number and placement of serving stations to allow all in your congregation who wish to receive to do so within five minutes, if possible.