* WORSHIP and REFLECTION with Rev. Anne * GODLY PLAY: an innovative Religious Education program for younger kids * TEEN TENT MEETING: teens exploring Spiritual and other Life Issues * NURSERY CARE: for babies and toddlers (See next page for details on kids and teens.)
"We are a church of ‘non-churchy’ people." - Vince Waldron, Member
What to expect on Sundays...
...or... “How to avoid panic in the pew!” (No worries, we don’t have pews…)
Perhaps you are new to this church, or even new to “worship services” in general. Perhaps you haven’t been here in a while and have merely forgotten. In any case, most of us find ourselves, at some time or another, saying: “Help! What do I do next?”
Hopefully, this guide will help you to relax and feel comfortable as you follow the service printed in the Sunday Bulletin or projected on the front wall. We also hope that you will find your Sunday morning to be meaningful and engaging as you celebrate and reflect among us. ARRIVAL Pick up a Sunday Bulletin and The New Century Hymnal (hardbound, black cover) from one of theGreeters at the door. These are also stacked on the table. Feel free to sign the guest book. If the coffee is ready, help yourself and then feel free to talk with folks and/or get comfortable in the chair of your choice.
WE GATHER IN COMMUNITY As people wander in, we exchange greetings and prepare for a worship experience. On most Sundays a quotation in the bulletin, the ringing of the bell, welcome & announcements, and a musical prelude help us to focus our attention on G-d and the theme for the day. A Gathering Hymn, a Call to Worship and Passing of the Peace (handshakes or hugs and greetings) affirm that everyone is ready to be together and to experience G-d’s presence in the midst of this community. WE PRAY Usually one person is asked ahead of time to serve as a Presider. The Presider makes announcements and leads the prayers, reads scripture and generally does whatever the Minister forgets to do. You may be asked to read aloud any prayers or parts of litanies printed in bold face. Usually prayers are printed in the bulletin or projected onto the front wall. Once in a while, prayers will be in the back of the hymnal – so far back there are no longer page numbers, just numbers for the prayers. The Presider will let you know if this is the case.
WE SHARE THE WORD Things are not always in the same order, but usually we move from gathering to sharing our understanding of sacred texts and stories related to our faith tradition. The Time with our Young People is just that. All children and teens (and anyone else who feels moved by their inner child to join us) are welcome to come forward to share their thoughts on a given topic and/or to hear a story. This is a time FOR the younger members of our community. Adults intentionally give this time during worship as a gift - in return for G-d’s gift of young people. (We often find that the time with young people is more interesting than the rest of worship!)
The young people go off to various activities while we continue with a Reading from texts of the Jewish and/or Christian traditions. It is a time of listening to and remembering our Tradition. These reflect certain themes that will be touched on in the Minister’s Reflection.
The Minister – or Lay Speaker – presents their thoughts for the week on faith, life, G-d and the Universe. Remember:
The Reflection seeks to combine the Jewish and Christian stories with our own story. The texts should touch our lives today.
Many other traditions speak to us and our condition. Listen for connections.
The speaker is also a listener. Whatever is said applies to ALL of us. Sometimes a sermon must be prophetic; the minister is equally touched by the message.
Reflections are different every Sunday: some are inspirational, some humorous, some downright gloomy – some are given in words, others in music or art. Expect variety!
Offering a Reflection is a two-way street, an intellectual, emotional and spiritual conversation between the speaker and other listeners. Be honest with the speaker during or after the service. Respond to what is said. Open and respectful dialogue is healthy!
WE PRAY SOME MORE In response to the reflection, G-d’s invitation and to the inclinations of our hearts, we offer prayers of Joy and Concern. After a Time of Silence the Minister may offer a Pastoral Prayer – and lead us into Our Common Prayer (aka The Lord’s Prayer). Most Sundays we use the phrase “forgive us our debts” – but if we use another version, it will be announced or printed. You are welcome to use whatever version you are comfortable with.
WE GIVE There is an opportunity each Sunday to offer a monetary gift from the heart to further the mission of this church. (See the side of the page for our Core Values.) As a United Church of Christ we not only support the work of our local church, we join with all U.C.C. persons world-wide to alleviate suffering within all of Creation * Our talented and humble pianist will play an Offertory as offering plates are passed around. We then Dedicate ourselves and our gifts of money time, energy and talent – with prayer and a sung Doxology.
WE ARE SENT Before we go, we sing a Sending Hymn and say or hear a Benediction - "good words” of blessing. In this way we encourage each other to do G-d’s work in the world once we have left this place. We receive the gift of a musical Postlude from our Pianist before heading to the snack table and coffee pot for conversation and “soul” food.
OTHER STUFF Our Pianist happens to also be our Choir Director. September to June we have a Choir that practices on Thursday nights and Sunday mornings – and then offers music during worship. These may be anthems or folk songs, solos, duets or choral pieces. You are welcome to join the choir any time!
Each month we have Communion, usually the first Sunday of the month, usually by “intinction.” You are invited to come forward, take a piece of bread from the loaf offered by the Minister or Presider and dip it into the chalice filled with grape juice. If you are unable to come forward, we will come to you in your seat. We have an “open table” which means no matter where you are in your faith journey – or in life – you are welcome to take communion. You also have the option to “pass.”
Sometimes there are alternative worship services or special events: New Members, Baptisms, Confirmations, Youth Sundays and such. These will be printed in your bulletin and you can muddle along with the rest of us!
On occasion we celebrate worship in Service to Others. For instance, we spent Pentecost morning marching in the L.A. Pride Parade. Another Sunday we sang hymns and then made sandwich lunches and distributed them to our homeless neighbors in the park and on surrounding streets. We find service to be a meaningful way to experience the Spirit moving in the world.
WORSHIP NOTES Notes in your bulletin will tell you the sources for prayers and special music. If there is no note about a prayer, it is likely that it was written by the Minister.
YOU ARE WELCOME… …to talk with the Minister and anyone else you see before and after worship. Help yourself to coffee, juice, snacks and anything else that suits your fancy. You may also stop by the welcome table for information and sign the guest book on your way out (if you didn’t on the way in).
ALTARS In the ancient tradition of our ancestors in faith, we set up a “cairn” or “altar” as a visual reminder that G-d is here in this place. We welcome creative and meaningful ideas and objects for creating these altars.
An Example: MIGRANT ARTIFACTS FROM SOUTHERN ARIZONA altar designed by Jim Burklo, Assoc. Dean of Religious Life, USC
This exhibit was assembled by artists Antonia Gallegos and Valarie James. They collected these items on migrant trails in the Sonoran Desert near their homes near Arivaca, AZ, close to the US/Mexico border. The water jugs are covered with cloth to insulate them from the heat but also to prevent the shimmer of the water from being seen by migra aircraft. The condition of the shoes reveals the ruggedness of the mountainous terrain. The landscape bristles with barbed mesquite trees and sharp, penetrating “jumping” cholla cactus spines. If migrants succeed in reaching the Arivaca area, about ten miles north of the border, they are often exhausted. If they are spotted by migra – the Border Patrol – and try to evade, they may become separated from the group traveling with their coyote, or smuggler. Such isolated migrants are susceptible to the elements. They begin shedding their belongings to lighten their loads and to get through the rough underbrush. When their water runs out, migrants become dehydrated and disoriented. About 250 migrants are found dead in desert in the Tucson Border Patrol sector each year. Although the total number of undocumented migrants crossing the border has gone down dramatically in recent years, the number of deaths remains about the same, because the migrants are taking more remote and dangerous routes that lead deeper into the desert.
WE HOPE… …that you find here a community that shares your values and celebrates G-d at work through and around us!
Never place a period where G-d has placed a comma, or an ellipsis… G-d is Still Speaking!