We all recognize that worship is just one part of what we do together as a church. Yet it is the cornerstone of our religious community. It is what brings many people in the door for the first time (or the hundredth), and it is the part of church life the largest number of us regularly participate in. It is, if you will, the heartbeat of the church.
Worship looks different from one Unitarian Universalist church to another, and within one congregation over time. Each person has favorite parts of worship, and preferences about how we do things.
As I’ve moved around the country and been involved with congregations of varying sizes and characters, I’ve discovered my own preferences, and missed favorite details when they weren’t part of the service. (One of my preferences, for example, is ending worship in shared singing while holding hands, as we do here at UUCB.)
Some of us like to chat with friends until the service starts; others want to come into the sanctuary and sit quietly while listening to the gathering music. I lean towards the second—the sanctuary is, as the name implies, a refuge from all the busy-ness of daily life, a place to sink into a different kind of experience. A few moments of quiet are a transition into sacred space and time.
Similarly, not having announcements in the service allows us to remain in that sacred time, rather than interrupting the flow of worship for the business side of church life.
Worship is a time to go deeper than we are often asked to in the rest of our week. It’s a time to connect with my own spirit and with something larger than myself, whether I’m preaching or participating as a congregant.
It’s also a time for connection with each other. That’s something we do by having our full church community (including our kids) together at the beginning of each service; by having regular full-church services in which the kids are with us for the full hour; by affirming our covenant out loud together; and by singing together. We also connect with each other through Candles of Community, whether our joys or concerns are spoken or unspoken.
Worship, done well, engages our minds, our hearts, and our spirits. It comforts us, challenges us, inspires us. Ultimately, the gifts we give and receive during worship are more important than whether any of us get to have worship exactly the way we want it to be. This, like so much else in church life, is part of how we live out our covenant, walking together whether or not we agree on every detail.
Come, let us worship together.