This is a service that begs for a multisensory experience. John’s Gospel describes the event of anointing Jesus by saying the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. Sure, you have to be careful because there are probably some people who are sensitive to perfumes; chat with the musicians to make sure you don’t overwhelm them and make it difficult for them to sing. But something in the air, some hint of blessing, of grace, of the sweet, sweet spirit might help worshipers grab hold of this moment. The sense of smell is tightly connected to memory. So, what memories do you want to evoke today as you worship? The baking bread of the home table, perhaps. Fresh baked bread for Communion, if you are in the habit of Communion on the first Sunday of the month, could be invitational, drawing worshipers into the loving embrace of the Christ who wants to gather them up.
We are nearing the end of this season; next week is Palm/Passion Sunday. So, here we can focus on giving honor to the Christ who as journeyed with us throughout this difficult season. Like Mary, we can pour out in blessing praise and worship as we gather. We can offer something precious as we approach the one who loves us more than his own life. What could we leave at the Table as we come forward for the sacrament? An offering? A prayer? A commitment of self, or gift, or time? We consider what we receive, and we should. But this time, what can we give? What act of service could we perform as we move into community at Table together? Multisensory means a lot of things in this context. It could, and perhaps should, mean engaging the whole self in responding to the presence of Christ.
How do we engage the whole self? How do we find ways of connecting what we do in worship with what we do in the world? What can we carry with us to remind us of the connection? What scent, what texture, what vision can go with us beyond this moment of worship? Let the worship team ponder this as they design worship this fifth Sunday in Lent.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.