Growing up in the CofC, most people would tell you that we don’t have a lot of ritual in our services. I think that’s kind of true. More likely, we should say that we don’t call it ritual. But really, from the way we prayed, to the way that we sang, to the way that the preacher talked. There was plenty of ritual. The fancy word for what I’m talking about is liturgy. It’s the way that “church” was (is) done. And we have our own liturgy at NCOC, we just might not say it that way.
And yet two rituals have stood out in the life of our church in this last week. The first was the “installation” of Mike Dossett as an elder. What a strange turn of phrase it is to say that we are “installing” someone. It’s like we were expecting a crew from Best Buy to show up and permanently fasten Mike to the wall like a set of speakers. Do we say that because we don’t want to say that he was “ordained”?
Anyhow. I heard more than one person comment (all in a positive way) on the reading that was used. The language was formal and kind of high-falutin’. It was a lot like a wedding ceremony. But it fit the occasion didn’t it? This is an important moment in the life of the church and (to borrow more nuptial language) “not to be entered into lightly.”
The other was last night’s Passover ceremony. [Thanks, BTW, to everyone who took care of business so we could participate in the ceremony. I hope that, if we do it again next year, we can make sure that those who were teaching our kids last night will be able to participate.] While last night could have been much more formal (I omitted the responsive readings) it was still a very ritualized event with all of the eating together and prayer and remembering.
Not something we typically “low church” informal CofC’ers do. But I think that both rituals were appropriate. Both provided a chance to experience something as a group.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on either of these events. Can anyone guess where the script for Mike’s ordination (There! I said it!) came from? Did you like it? Was it strange? How do you respond to formal ritual in a worship service? What about the Passover service last night? What was it like to take part in such a choreographed event?
I’d like to hear from those of you who grew up in the CoC and those of you who didn’t. Or maybe I should say those who grew up in High Church and Low Church traditions. My guess is that you’ll bring different perspectives.
Where else (if anywhere) might rituals like that be beneficial to the church?
On another note, for those of you who are into the whole “religious calendar” thing, let me remind you that tomorrow is Good Friday. I hope you’ll be aware of that throughout your day. We will celebrate on Sunday, but our celebration does not come cheaply.
Perhaps I could spend some time with this reflection on Good Friday from last year.