Mystery Worship Series (October 2018)
Week 1: DISORIENTED
Today marks the beginning of a new four-week series. We are taking a deep dive in the mysterious and complicated story of Job, which is neatly condensed into four lectionary readings in the month of October. You can do this series in the month of October, as originally planned, or you can place this any time in the year where you may need a four-week worship series. In the New Interpreter’s Bible, Carol Newsom has this to say about Job:
To the reader who is willing to forgo simplistic answers, however, the book offers challenging exploration of religious issues of fundamental importance: the motivation for piety, the meaning of suffering, the nature of God, the place of justice in the world, and the relationship of order and chaos in God’s design of creation. (pg. 19)
Challenge your congregation to go beyond the surface of Job and allow themselves to wrestle with a mysterious piece of Scripture.
Job takes place outside any specific time and place. (“The land of Uz” isn’t given a location.) It is a mix of poetry and prose, woven together to tell the story of one man’s experience with God, a satan-like character, suffering, and redemption. The Book of Job is essentially a drama. Here are Taylor Burton-Edwards’ notes on designing worship from the 2015 Year B cycle:
You may want to offer a more dramatic form of reading, or even design the worship space as the setting for the drama. Offering the reading each week as a drama may help your congregation connect with each week’s reading more deeply. Today's “characters” would include God as ruler/judge, the Adversary (the Hebrew word "ha-satan" here does NOT mean "devil," but something more like prosecuting attorney), other members of the heavenly court who watch the interchange (choir or praise team), Job, and his wife. The congregation might take the role of God (in unison). Staging might include an ash heap (for the scene with Job and his wife this week, and many of the scenes in subsequent weeks).
Consider enlisting different members of your congregation to take parts and read them in order to enliven the Scripture readings in this series. Job’s narrative is heavy on action, and the four readings pick up further ahead in the story each Sunday. You might consider opening the Scripture reading with a short reminder of what they heard/saw last week, and what has transpired in the story. You could also encourage your congregation to keep up with the story by doing the daily lectionary readings. Remind people via social media channels and weekly church emails.