April 29th Newsletter
Thank you to everyone who took part in our Sunday evening Quarterly meeting. It was the first opportunity we’ve had as a congregation to discuss how church life is taking shape since the pandemic hit. As part of the meeting, we shared the decision that DaySpring will stay on-line through the month of May. As for June and beyond? We’ll continue to evaluate the situation with hope to offer some kind of in-person opportunities by June, slowly phasing return to in-person worship, groups, and activities through the summer. We have a long way to go, but I’m so very pleased with the ways we have embraced the challenges and opportunities presented by this crisis.
About six weeks into the Quarantide, this is a good opportunity to reflect on our worship life and offer a few suggestions for engaging meaningfully in our worship.
Since this all began to unfold, our instincts have been to follow sacred and simple, practice contemplative worship in an online space, and offer ways to connect the church community with its pastors and with one another. Especially concerning Sunday worship, we wondered what would be prayerful? What would be sacred? What would be simple? In our current lenten practice of visio divina, using sacred art as a meditative prompt for worship, we found a gift for such a time as this! But how best to use it? How could we take what we were already doing to supplement worship and translate it to a guiding principle for an online reality? We knew wanted to lean into this opportunity, whatever that meant.
You’ve experienced what was born from those discussions and reflections. Each Sunday morning, we provide worship guides for weekly worship and an audio recording for all who would like listen to the led service. The Sunday service is tied in with weekly prayer guides so that the worshipping life of the church, rooted in Sunday services, extends through every day of the week in our homes. Visio divina with Icons and art give us sacred visuals for each week.
You might wonder why we decided early on to provide audio recordings rather than video. That wasn’t an obvious decision, but it seemed clear the more we considered how everything was coming together. Early on that decision was woven with practical concerns about video quality and ultimately what would be lost in video format. But mostly it was a decision rooted in a desire to offer worship resources in a format that would extend the character of our church’s contemplative worshipping life. More than a few of you have said to me, “I actually pay attention better this way than I did in person. I’m not as distracted.”
We’ve learned along the way in anything we do we gain something and lose something, and we all recognize that we can’t take the place of in-person gatherings and something is lost by not seeing the faces of those preaching, reading, and singing. Should we try video? As this unfolds . . .maybe. I’m open to it. But, for now, I’d like us to keep learning what we have to learn from our audio and visio divina with art.
So, how can you make full use of audio services? I’d like to revisit a few suggestions from this experience for the service to be meaningful.
Begin by dedicating time to engage the service. Enter into the time intentionally . . .honor the silent prayers, respond to the litanies, sing along with the music. DaySpring worship is highly participatory and prayerful. Even in this season, we can each take part and feel a part. The roving reporter children’s sermons are a big plus!
Secondly, set the week’s icon or art in front of you during the service and let the service be an exercise in visio divina. Meditation on beautiful art as prayer is the one of the advantages of this format.
Finally, say a pray for those who are leading the service and others who you share worship. We are together in spirit. In in this time, we are not alone. Please know that we are holding you in our prayers as we lead.
This approach to worship is a small, but significant gesture toward the nurturing of the contemplative life. Many of us are spending hours and hours a day looking at computer monitors. Let worship move past the screen. Let your eyes rest and let your heart do its work. Maybe it’s a new verse to our old song, “If your eyes are weary, come away . . .”
Thank you for your grace, patience, and endurance as we continue living in these days. Believe me, above all, we miss your faces. Before each worship each week, we pray something like this, “Be in this service, O Lord. Be intimately present with each person who will hear our voices and join our voices in your praise. May Your voice be the one in their ears and hearts. Let your Spirit loose among us dispersed, bind us together, and bring us into your holy temple. May your name be praised. Amen.”
God’s peace be with you all this week,
For more news and other announcements, click HERE for the April 29th Newsletter.