Rector's Blog: A New Sunday
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Beginning on September 12th, we will be offering a new Sunday worship schedule, and we will be returning to our full array of four worship services: Rite I Eucharist, Rite II Eucharist, The Banquet, and Celtic Eucharist. The morning will begin with Rite I Eucharist in the Chapel at 8:00 am, followed by Rite II Eucharist in the Sanctuary at 9:00 am. We will offer a coffee hour and education for all ages at 10:00 am, and then the Banquet at 11:00 am in the Sanctuary. The Celtic Eucharist will again take place at 5:00 pm in the Chapel.
I want to take this opportunity to highlight some of the changes. We begin with Rite I Eucharist. Let me say first how excited I am to be able to worship with Rite I on a regular basis for the first time since March of 2020! What a joy! Rite I will maintain its 8:00 am start time but will now worship in the Chapel. This will allow for a more intimate experience for those who attend, and will make it possible for us to prepare the sanctuary for the upcoming Rite II service.
The Rite II Eucharist service will continue to be at 9:00 am in the Sanctuary, as it has since 2020, and will continue to be livestreamed online. If you have been attending 9:00 am recently, you may have noticed that we have been keeping our services to an hour. This has not been an accident! We noticed that our Rite II service was averaging about 75 minutes prior to the pandemic, and we are making a concerted effort to keep the service time to an hour so that we can maximize social and educational time between the 9:00 and 11:00 am services.
The 10:00 am hour will function very similarly to how our 11:00 am hour did prior to the pandemic with educational offerings for children, youth, and adults. We have also recognized that a growing number of people are seeking an opportunity to simply socialize without joining a class, and we will be working to offer a more robust “coffee hour” during that time. Since the Banquet will not be meeting in the Great Hall, we will have more spaces for both education and socializing in the building, and this was an intentional choice. Anyone who has participated in Banquet worship in the Great Hall has had the experience of people passing through the middle of the space at the beginning or end of worship, or of being informally ushered out so that Adult Forum could start. This new set up will alleviate those issues.
No service will experience as much change as the Banquet, which will have both a new time and location. Incidentally, there is no service I’m more excited for in the coming months than the Banquet – which I believe is on the cusp of powerful spiritual growth and a burst of creative energy. We have assembled a group of faithful Banquet attendees to lead us in the work of re-visioning this service that we love so much. There are some legitimate concerns about moving the Banquet into the Sanctuary – concerns about making it feel too churchy, too traditional, and of losing the intimacy, informality, and accessibility that are essential to the Banquet’s identity. We are taking these concerns very seriously.
Nearly a decade ago, Church of the Redeemer embarked on a renovation with one of the chief goals being a more flexible, versatile Sanctuary space. All the furniture is moveable, and there are plenty of ways to inhabit the Sanctuary that will not feel traditional. We believe that we can create a new way of engaging in Banquet worship that remains consistent with the values and priorities that made the service so important in the first place.
We are thrilled to bring the Eucharist in the Celtic tradition back to the chapel at 5:00 pm! This is the service that will likely experience the least amount of change in this transition, though it is worth noting that we plan to replace the full-length sermon with a briefer theological reflection on the text with added space for silence and contemplation, as is fitting for the Celtic Eucharist. I know many of you join me in missing the opportunity to worship with our Celtic liturgy, and many of you miss having a chance to worship in the early evening. It will be wonderful to have this back in our lives.
There are still some pieces to the Sunday puzzle that are missing and need to be resolved. We do not yet know, for instance, how and when Rise & Shine (which previously met at the 9 o’clock hour) will continue. Those of you who are members of the Rise & Shine group, we will be finding time in the coming weeks to meet and discuss possibilities.
We also do not know exactly what offerings for children will look like during the services, though we are committed to making sure that there are meaningful formation opportunities for children at both Rite II and the Banquet. I encourage parents of younger people in our congregation to stay in touch with our Family Ministry team, which will be engaging you with a survey very soon and building a Sunday schedule consistent with the excellent care you’ve come to expect from them.
I want to thank you. Thank you for your patience and flexibility during this time of transition. I also want to thank you for your thoughtful, passionate, and loving feedback during the last few weeks. Over 190 people completed our survey, and we were moved by your responses and care for your church. So many of you expressed excitement at the possibilities of this new service arrangement. I’m with you. I believe this is going to be fantastic for the life, vitality, and spiritual development of all four worship services on Sunday, and I can’t wait to see it in action.
At the same time, some of you have expressed concern, skepticism, grief at the loss of what was, or just plain disagreement with some of the things we are choosing to do. I want you to know that I hear you. A very wise member of my previous church once taught me that all change – even good change – brings loss. Loss of what was. And this is painful even when it is right. And also, you may be right: Some of these things may not work. The leadership of this church believes this will all work beautifully, but we could be wrong. We will find out together. We will listen to each other, and we will listen to the Holy Spirit. But please know that you are being heard, that my door is always open, and that your voice and your participation in this community are so important to who Church of the Redeemer is.
What a time to be us! I wrote last week that we were meant for these times, that God has put us here in this time and in this place for the work of serving our community with humility, compassion and faithfulness. What a vocation we share! What a powerful mission – to be brought together, transformed by Christ’s unending love, and sent into the world to participate in the healing and reconciliation of all things! I am honored to share in this work with you and inspired by your faithfulness and friendship during these times for which we were made. See you on Sunday!
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