This past Sunday we celebrated an “Instructed Eucharist,” a worship service in the Episcopal Church narrated to explain how and why we do the things we do in Church. Though Instructed Eucharists are pretty common in the Episcopal Church, I had never led one myself, and I found I was pretty nervous about how it would go. I worried the narrative pieces would feel too long and people would start to lose attention. I worried the worship would feel too disjointed by narration to feel like worship. I worried the teaching portion would not be particularly meaningful for those gathered.
As in most things, my worries were unfounded. Many of those gathered shared that the narrative did not make the service too long. In fact, they were surprised at how seamlessly the narrative flowed, and how engaging the experience was. Several of those gathered were touched by the parts that are always touching – scripture, music, preaching, the peace, communion, and the dismissal. And many of those gathered, of all ages, and of all spiritual backgrounds, shared not only did they love the service, but they also learned many new things.
What caught my attention about the feedback was not simply that people liked the experience. What caught my attention about the feedback was people were excited about worship. Having learned something about the weekly ritual of worship allowed our worship to shift from the physical (the habits of bowing, kneeling, standing, singing, eating, greeting) to the mental (understanding the theology, history, and spirituality of our worship) to the spiritual (the opening of our bodies and minds creating deeper connection with God). That kind of excitement is at the heart of what drew most Episcopalians to the Episcopal Church – a ritual that somehow spoke to something deep inside them, and of which they wanted more. Sometimes that longing could be easily described, but sometimes that longing was too mysterious to capture in words.
If you had that experience this past Sunday, or if you have ever been touched by that mysterious sense of God in the worship within the Episcopal Church, I invite you to share that sense of wonder with someone today. You may share the first moment you stepped into an Episcopal Church, or a lifetime of practice, or a simple Instructed Eucharist. Share the wonder and beauty with someone else, and invite them into the same experience that has enlivened your spiritual journey. And if you have never had that experience in a church before, know you are welcome to join us at Hickory Neck – a place where you can weekly come and participate – whether physically, mentally, or spiritually – in something bigger than yourself, but in something that makes you feel more grounded in yourself – something that allows you to find God within, already there waiting for you, affirmed in the community around you. You are welcome here.