Being ill has given me a new appreciation for the Liturgy.
Today, for the first time since I have been a pastor, I missed a Sunday due to illness. I have caught the bug that is going around, and it has laid me and my wife low. It hit me on Friday morning -- and I was feeling a bit better on Saturday, I thought I would be able to hack it today.
I was wrong.
So in doing the normal morning run around, I got completely worn out. In fact, the elders at the vacancy I cover sent me home -- I probably looked something fierce. So I head home and called the elders here to let them know they were going to have lead the service - the sermon's in the pulpit for you to read.
I went home and slept. I needed it -- didn't like it, but I slept. I will need more sleep in a bit.
But a few minutes ago I wandered over to the Church - just to make sure everything was closed up right - and I ran into Thomas Lemke - so I asked him how the service went - and he said something brilliant, which I will paraphrase yet attribute to him. He said that the service went well, but then the key was he noted this -- if this had been a baptist service and the pastor was sick at the last moment - it would have been ruined. It would have been totally different. But with our service -- it was the same. No communion, but the service still flowed.
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This is the beauty of the liturgy. We all know our parts. We have our rolls, we come, we speak and sing and listen. And if something goes wrong, if someone can't make it - we can adapt and go.
A few weeks ago the organist was ill. A member went up to the organ and one-noted the liturgy and hymns. The service went on.
Or that time a few winters ago when the heat went out in the Sanctuary, and we meet in the parish hall. We carried in hymnals and used the piano. The service went on.
Now, consider for a moment. What if I am doing some sort of "hip" service where my carefully crafted message is just in my head for me to share while I wander up front? If I am sick this morning... service is... well, ruined?
Or what if the lead singer for the praise team gets the flu -- who is going to sing that new special song that they whipped up for the theme of the day? Or if the drummer goes out - who fills in?
But with the Liturgy, we all know our parts. And you know what - if we don't have them down memorized we have a book. Or if someone has to sub in for me, hey, here are my parts in the book - and here are the readings.
And that's fitting - because it's corporate worship, worship that is for the Body of Christ. It's not reliant upon any one person, and in fact, every person in that worship has been replaced (not a single person from my congregation's first worship was in attendance today) -- but it goes on because it is the worship that belongs to the Church.
It's nice to go to a Church where we all know our parts - where we all belong.