Structuring Meeting for Worship

  • April 8, 2015 at 11:50 am #1533
    Hannah Mayer

    I recently visited a meeting which is un-programmed, but had a 20-minute offering that was organized in advance and included brief readings, singing and a short sermon-ish thing. That 20 minute period was followed by an hour of waiting worship. So cool! I found that the message gave some focus for the worship and the messages that followed, and the singing was a unifying experience that helped me feel like part of the body. Some friends arrived at the end of the message, which I later learned is normal – some people prefer just the silence and the meeting is fine with that. I’ve seen other examples of structure that have seemed helpful (my meeting does names in a circle and a check-in/ response to a question before settling into waiting worship) though this was the most elaborate and time-consuming. Are there elements of structure for how worship goes on Sunday morning that are helpful for your experience of worship? If so, what are they? Or alternatively, are those distracting from the essence of worship for you?

  • May 22, 2015 at 2:06 pm #1534

    Hannah, for me this is part of a larger question about how meeting for worship works in relationship to the rest of our week — the “meeting” part is (I think?) about being in community, and all week long we have opportunities to be in relationship to Spirit. I remember as a kid having it explained to me why you don’t come to meeting with a prepared “statement” but listen for the Spirit to move you to vocal ministry, but also being told that we should come to worship”prepared” — which I took to mean prepared to be open to Spirit, to listen and wait. So I wonder how meetings develop practices to help “prepare” us to enter into worship, like the opening you describe above. As a parent, it often feels to me like I’m going 100 mph on First Day to get us there, and I could use a transitional period to settle in, be prepared.

    It also makes me think about the varied ways Friends in other YMs worship beyond waiting worship — People are sometimes surprised to learn that music, sermons, etc. are part of Quaker worship in other “branches.” Maybe it’s time to dismantle some of the silos between us and what our practices are, and make space for what nurtures us spiritually. Could make for some amazing discernment, and surely tension between individual and corporate needs.

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