A few months ago my friend/pastor and I started a short, simple contemplative service in our 100-year-old stained glass sanctuary every Wednesday from 12noon – 12:45pm. We call it Quiet Worship, Quiet Service, or sometimes, just Quiet.
I wanted to share it with you in case:
- you’re local and you’d like to come!
- you’re far away but it might be idea that your friends/congregation would find helpful.
The idea initially came from conversations we’d had with busy, mostly working 20 and 30-somethings who (in our humble opinion) needed more than anything just a quiet space to give attention to God mid-week. We were all feeling quite reticent to commit to spend another evening away from home, but how about a lunch break?? So, the idea started with our own friends and contemporaries, but all are welcome.
Here’s our basic liturgy / worship schedule:
12-12:15. Soft start. (Educators might call it an ‘entry task.’) One of us stands at the entry to give a hug and a short, quiet greeting as people arrive. Every person also gets a half-sheet of paper. At the top, it reads: “From now until 12:15, silently reflect and pray. Use what is printed below, or feel free just to sit in silence. Do whatever you need to do to prepare your heart before God.” Then, below is most often a Scripture passage followed by 3-4 reflective questions. Sometimes the excerpt of a hymn will be included. The content always dovetails with the mini-teaching that day. Everyone sits (or stands or kneels) in silence. Soft, mostly instrumental music plays from an iPhone at the front. We love the ‘soft start’ because it means that no one is really ever late.
12:15-12:30. Input. The two of us take turns teaching. Sometimes the input is like a mini-sermon. Sometimes the input is leading the group through a spiritual practice or discipline. Almost always, it ends in directed prayer with silences between reflective questions.
12:30-12:45. Communion. We invite everyone up to the front to gather around a table where bread and juice are ready. We pass around the plate of bread saying, one to the next, “This is Christ’s body, broken for you.” Then we eat it. Second, we pass around the plate of juice cups saying, one to the next, “This is Christ’s blood, shed for you.” Then the leader says, “Amen. Go in peace.”
12:45-1. Open. The sanctuary remains open for further prayer or contemplation.
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We I always said that we wanted to keep it simple enough that we could participate and enjoy it even when we were leading it. (We’re both pretty wired for this kind of stuff, so that is actually possible.) And, we just invited our friends and staff at first and gave it a try for a few months to see if it would help anyone before we mentioned it more publicly. We wanted to have the freedom to cancel or reevaluate if no one showed up, and we didn’t want to be perpetually committed to spending our time and resources on it if no one found it helpful.