Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Background on The Creation of A Service of Jubilee
Hello blog world! Yes, it’s been awhile since I have posted anything, I know. Life has been busy! Between home and church I have kept hopping! Needless to say the stress-o-meter went full tilt at one point and I ended up in bed for a few days. If I made it through the day just getting the basics done and taken care of, it was a victory! The past few months have been, in a word, exhausting.
One of the many items on my list over the past month or so, happened on Sunday. Here in Missouri, Annual Conference was this past weekend, and those of us who are lay speakers usually cover the services at home. So I preached this past Sunday-both services. Actually, I did a little more than that, I created a service from scratch. I called it a Service of Jubilee or, a Celebration of Jubilee. I will post the format and my sermon notes in separate blog posts, but for now, let me explain the idea behind this service.
My home church is in a period of transition. Our current minister is retiring. Our new minister will be arriving soon. It’s an interesting time for the congregation because it’s mixed with sadness and joy, fear and excitement and a whole lot of other things that run the gamut. And sometimes we forget that God is in charge. So, I thought it might be helpful to give people a safe way to express their fears and their hopes individually and as a congregation. Long story short, I gave the congregation a chance to write down those fears and hopes on paper, with the understanding that no one else would see them. We then gathered up the papers, prayed over them and released them to God by burning them. I asked them to decide what they were willing to let go of, what were they willing to turn over to God? It could be in their personal life, their professional life and even, their church life. I used Paul’s exhortation of “forgetting those things that are behind and pressing forward.” And thus, the Service of Jubilee was born as a way of letting go of things, in order to move on to the future with a “clean slate.”
I will tell you that I used some very traditional things in this service and I make no apologies for doing so! Traditional things used wisely can have a powerful impact! The prayers that the congregation said together are variations or actual word for word prayers that are found in the United Methodist Hymnal. I also picked songs and hymns that went along with the theme, some quiet, but some really joyous because Jubilee is meant to be a time of celebration. And, I believe in the importance of symbolism. The papers were taken outside to be burned so we didn’t set off the smoke alarms in church, but I lit a candle off of one of the altar candles to be carried outside….symbolic of the light of Christ, being carried out and used to cleanse and to lift the prayers skyward…Holy Smoke. Symbols can be very powerful, as well.
One thing that, I think, would have made the service even better, is if we could have had Communion as well. Something to think about if you decide to use this at your church.
The scriptures that I refer to, for the most part, come from the NIV Bible translation. There was one exception, I used the Amplified Bible for one verse in particular because I thought that it more clearly emphasized the point I was trying to make.
If you are looking to do something different at your church, and you like the idea, feel free to use it. At the very least, this idea may inspire you to create your own unique service that fills a need in your congregation.
Leading this service was a joy for me personally and I hope, that by sharing it with you, it will lead you to your own divine inspiration! Be blessed!