Searching for thin places, Rhythm of worship

June 30, 2012

Rhythm of worship

For all your preacher types out there and those of you who know a preacher type, we have 24 worship services a week here on Iona. Seven morning worship services, seven evening services and five services offering prayers for peace and justice. Communion is served at least once a week, often twice. There are two church musicians, a sacristan, an assistance sacristan, and they are all laity. One clergy type hangs around, but is there largely to preside at communion. Each service is led by a resident or volunteer staff member, and communion is led by a clergy person that is present or invited to preside. Prayers for peace and justice are at 2 p.m. each Monday – Thursday, and Saturday. This is a very brief service, with occasional music, and often it is interrupted by touring groups. Morning worship Monday through Thursday is the same. It is a service of affirmation and prayers which prepares us for our day. As we offer prayers for countries and people by name, we don’t say amen when we reach the conclusion, but leave the church to begin our day of work. On Sunday morning it is our large worship service complete with a sermon and communion. Friday mornings worship is a leaving service, as that is our guest’s final service with us and we offer them prayers for safe travel and continued journey of faith. The evening services all vary. They are: Saturday evening – Service of Hospitality (new guests arrive) Sunday evening – Quiet service Monday evening – world space (reflecting on the needs of the world) Tuesday evening – Healing service (prayers for healing and wellness) Wednesday evening – Creative space (led by guests) Thursday evening – Table space (communion or agape service) Friday evening – Inner space (reflective service) Each evening they are led by a different member of resident staff, and it is so interesting to see how each approaches the service. While the worship book – the green Iona Worship book – offers a liturgical outline, the gist of the service may depend on the topic of the week or the personal interests of the staff member. Recently we had services on refugees, immigration and the uneasiness of 24/7 living. One of the most difficult services for me to attend in terms of personal experience is the Tuesday evening service of Healing. During that service the names of those who have requested prayer for specific things are read aloud. Then a circle is created and those wishing to have hands laid upon them come forward and kneel. We offer the prayer - “Spirit of the living God, present with us now, enter you body, mind and spirit, and heal you of all that harms you, In Jesus name Amen.” Tuesday evening last I was asked to assist with the laying on of hands and I did. In God’s small world one of the people I laid hands on had been on the plane from Newark to Glasgow with me. But by far my favourite service is the Wednesday evening service. It is led by the guests of the Abbey and MacLeod Centre. As a general rule, this service is pretty great, but I imagine this week it will be amazing as we have a very talented group of young people in the Mac. Two of them played violin and flute earlier this week and two people in the service actually thought it was recorded music. The most wonderful thing is that this is primarily lay led worship, and it is profound. This is a thin place.