A Laity Led Service (Visiting Church #29)
The lighting of three candles ceremonially begins today’s service. The pastor is gone and a lay speaker is filling in. She opens with announcements and some updates. Then we sing to organ accompaniment. Another layperson leads us in a liturgical call to worship. We sing a second song and a bell choir follows, which is a first for our journey
Then is a time of greeting. Many people flash wide smiles and give warm handshakes. The scripture reading is next with two selections from today’s lectionary: Job 42:1-6, 10-17 and Mark 10:46-52. Prior to each reading, the leader explains the context of the passage.
Afterwards we sing a third song to welcome the children forward for their message, given by yet another member; it’s based on the reading from Mark. The chancel choir is next, with their song preceding the message. Today’s speaker connects the two readings, which she ties in with a poignant personal story. She wrote out her presentation and reads most of it. Though she’s not an accomplished speaker, I commend her actions.
Afterwards, she reviews a list of prayer requests and joys, followed by her reading of a liturgical prayer. The bell choir returns to play during the offering. The congregation responds with applause, which also happened for the chancel choir and our speaker. They’re an appreciative group, supporting one another.
To conclude our time together, we sing the doxology and recite a prayer of dedication. A hymn of commitment follows and then the benediction, both using the piano. Someone extinguishes the candles, ceremonially ending the service.
The entire service, led solely by church members, proceeds without the participation of clergy or a guest speaker. This, it seems, is how it should be.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.