By John Ridout
Lent – a time for reflection – a time to spiritually journey with Jesus to Jerusalem – to the cross – and then “to the other side” with the resurrection. At St. Thomas the Apostle we challenged ourselves to think of a way to walk the journey in a new, challenging and exciting way. And by golly we did it last year and are doing it again this year. What we do is make a reader’s digest version of Bishop Terry’s Lenten bible study for our 10 o’clock Sunday Eucharist service and integrate it with our traditional worship format and add in table sharing by the congregation.
How does it work? Well we first move the six week series from the church proper to the church basement. Second, we set up 10 tables around which 4 people can gather. Third, we bring the portable acoustic piano downstairs. Then as is our custom upstairs as well, we have the entire service on a computer stick and project it from a laptop onto a screen. Viola, no need for prayer books and hymnals. And finally at each of the tables each week is the Sunday gospel passage, brief background notes, a couple of discussion questions and a pencil.
And now let the order of service begin. After the readings, our priest Vickie gives us in a short (very short) reflection on the gospel & introduces the first question we are to spend some time gathering our thoughts and sharing with the others at our tables. Then she repeats the process and we do it all over with another question. Finally it’s open sharing with the whole group. WOW what sharing there is!! It’s awesome!!!¬
We then have the Eucharist and that too is cool. The Eucharistic prayers are traditional but instead of us all going up to receive, Vickie and the lay Eucharistic ministers come to the tables. We do it that way for practical reasons but there is also something so meaningful in “Christ” coming to us in the bread and wine. So like Jesus, don’t you think, always reaching out, always coming to those who hunger and thirst for God presence.
The service ends and what could be better, we are already downstairs for the coffee, goodies and more conversation.
By the time we get to the end of Lent, we know we have been on a journey together and we know the Holy Spirit has journeyed with us.
John Ridout is People’s Warden and Lay Reader St. Thomas the Apostle