Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What's Advent smell like? (When are you most aware of God's presence?)

I'm excited and nervous for our worship service at 8:30 on Sunday.

The service will focus on the annunciation: the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary. The sermon and offertory will incorporate the congregation's responses to the question

"When are you most aware of God's presence?"

I've been collecting answers for a couple of weeks. Feel free to respond if you haven't already!

The answers have been varied and surprising. Each time I read a new one I feel as if I've just been given a precious gift.

We're going to use video clips during the sermon (including a clip from Angels in America, pictured here).

The offertory will include visual elements along with the music. We're using projection, but not as a replacement for the bulletin or just to project a power point slideshow.

We're doing it to give people a different way to engage in worship. A few artists in the congregation from the Savannah College of Art and Design are helping.

Our musician will play some music under some of the prayers in order to tie together the overall service. I'm not sure how these changes will be received but I am excited. I love this stuff.

I've been trying to figure out when I first got excited about innovation in worship. I trace it back to the influence of Siobhan Garrigan, the Dean of our Chapel in Divinity School. Daily worship was something of worship laboratory. We got to experiment with forms and language; song and silence. I learned about the multi-sensory tradition of worship. I also saw how tradition and innovation could go hand in hand.

So, what's with the orange slices?

One worship service that has never left me was an advent service that was creative and traditional. I recall nearly everything about it: rich purple and orange colors draped throughout the sanctuary; intimate lighting; music in minor keys; a sermon by John Hare about making the place you are a home.

I also remember the smell: orange. Orange oil and orange slices filled the air with a citrus scent. Is that why I can recall the rest of service so well?

When a variety of senses are engaged, you remember things better. If nothing else, I hope this Sunday's 8:30 service will help people remember that God appears in all sorts of ways - often right under our noses. I'm not sure we can pull off a scent this weekend. Maybe for epiphany? What scent would go with epiphany?

The orange slice painting is from artist Patti Mollica, found online using a search for "orange slices." I was really drawn to the painting and hope she doesn't mind the promo.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Sarah, for remembering our worship life together AND for the wonderful ways you are letting the Spirit lead you in a Living tradition through the glory of the gifts that are our senses! Siobhan

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