Worship in the Works- Advent Brainstorming

Advent WorkshopMany thanks to all who came to the Advent‐Epiphany Brainstorming Party on Sunday, October 27th, after worship. It was a deeply productive session resulting in many great ideas for planning worship this Advent and Christmas season. With twenty‐one such creative and thoughtful folks in the room, it couldn’t have been otherwise!

We began the workshop by exploring how planning worship together is also a way of reflecting on, and lovingly holding, the Christian community we already are and that we hope to become. Picking up the Advent scripture theme of ʺBuilding the House of Godʺ from Isaiah, we talked about how bringing our ideas and gifts to designing worship together is one of many ways we can build our House of God this year. Indeed, already your ideas, creativity, time, energy, and commitment are the bricks and mortar for a potentially very exciting Advent worship season.

We remembered the world in which we live through Douglas Ha sharing his experience and memorable conversion of their family in the refuge camp in Vietnam where missionaries learned their language and lived as they did… Many thanks to Naomi as she enthusiastically led us through brainstorming of how to enrich the worship service to be more meaningful through various media as we enter Advent and Christmas. — Jin and Jane Chin

An unexpected computer virus interrupted my hope of introducing Marcia McFeeʹs ʺWorship Design Studioʺ online platform as a possible tool for helping to organize a worship team. However, if anyone has questions about it, or would like to learn more, please feel free to let your pastoral team know. Some churches find it helpful because it allows worship teams to do creative work without having to attend yet another meeting, but each church finds what works best for them and their particular needs.

We broke into four small groups to brainstorm ideas for each of the Sundays in Advent, and then came together at the end to share our thoughts. Some of the ideas that got us most excited included finding ways of integrating the youth more fully into worship, and incorporating multi‐sensory activities to enrich our Advent and Christmas Eve services. Folks came up with many specific ideas on how to do this that we will incorporate. More details to follow! In the meantime, if any of you have poems, readings, music, visual art, or other ideas youʹd like to contribute to our worship planning for Advent/Christmas, please pass them along to Rick, Tripp, Doug or me and weʹll add them to the creative pot weʹre stirring. Thanks again for all your support and input! It sure was fun, and we look forward to doing it again.

In peace and passion,
Naomi Schultz, Intern

Naomi arranging flowers
Naomi arranging flowers

Worship in the Works – thoughts on Advent planning and Worship Teams

schultz2.fwWith Advent and Christmas fast approaching, Pastor Rick, Pastor Tripp, and interns Doug and I are working on an Advent planning retreat for Sunday, October 27, beginning with the Adult Spiritual Formation time after worship. Everyone will be invited to come party and plan for the holidays!! It’s gonna be fun!

And while we are thinking about Advent, I’d like to pick up the thread of work you’ve all been doing in exploring new ways of constructing and playing with worship. Last summer I had the wonderful opportunity of interning with Rev. Dr. Marcia McFee’s “Worship Design Studio.” Marcia is a Methodist pastor and consultant known internationally for her innovative interweaving of visual and verbal arts, drama, music, and digital media to create lush and deeply meaning worship. Whether a worship service is simple with just a few elements, or constructed with multiple complex elements, Marcia’s techniques add depth, grace and playfulness to the worship experience.

I’m easy to please when it comes to worship: give me some lovely ancient or modern prayers, the same with music, scripture and a good sermon, and I’m a happy clam. What I appreciate about the approaches of Brad Berglund and Marcia Mcfee, however, is that they give us more tools in our tool box to play with, like ways of integrating the visual arts, and of layering music with both prayer and action. Seasons like Advent and Lent especially lend themselves to trying on something different in worship for a few weeks, and just noticing where it leads us. Some things that we try we might keep, others we let go of because they didn’t move us.

I learned recently that the word “worship” comes from the old English words of “weorth,” which means ʺworth,ʺ and scipe or ship, which means something like shape or ʺquality.ʺ Inherent in both of these old words is a sense of something meaningful – something with worth and quality that shapes our lives and communities. Marcia McFee offers:

When you consider that worship is the portal into the life of your church for visitors and that most of the members of the congregation probably only connect to the church through that one hour of weekly worship, this means that worship has the most impact on the greatest percentage of people…. Meaningful and memorable worship can energize [our] work of discipleship and deepen [our] personal and corporate spiritual journeys. We are all ‘called to ministry’ through our initiation into the church and being even a small part of the work of worship in your community is an answer to that call!

A worship team can be one of the most vibrant and vital discipleship groups in the congregation. It includes bible‐study, theology, artistry, mission, commitment, spiritual direction along with a healthy dose of small group bonding! It can be multigenerational and include those who consider themselves ʺcreativeʺ as well as those who just want to help carry out the tasks needed to serve the church.

Part of my work with First Baptist Church this year will be to draw on all your creative talents when it comes to planning for the seasons of Advent and Lent, with the hope that it will be so fun and fulfilling that there will be energy and desire to continue, with the pastoral team, working on worship together and building a Worship Team.

Details for the Advent Worship Planning Party are in the works! Advent being my favorite time, I can’t wait…. And when it comes, may we all inspire each other to use ancient traditions in fresh ways to proclaim the Good News!

In peace and Passion,

Pastor Rick: November 14

First Baptist Church of Palo AltoSunday is our annual Stewardship Sunday.  I trust that we all have been thoughtfully and prayerfully considering what we can give to the church next in year – in terms of time, talent and treasure.  A pledge of income is especially valuable as it allows the Finance Committee and Council to plan more accurately for the year ahead.  Thanks to Laura Garcia who has once again chaired our stewardship campaign and to the Finance Committee, chaired by Jane Chin, that has worked on our 2013 budget.  Sunday will be a celebration as we bring our pledges, our gifts and our offerings for Ecumenical Hunger Program to the table in one joyous processional.  The items of food and clothing needed by EHP are listed below.  Please be generous and give from the heart.

Friday night is our gratitude potluck for the whole family.  Pastor Tripp and I have planned some fun and creative ways for us all to say “thank you” for the many ways we are blessed.  I encourage you to join us around the tables in the Fellowship Hall as an act of building up our community.

Next Sunday, November 25, we will honor “Christ, the King” in worship and then remain afterwards to “Hang the Greens.”  This is an opportunity for all of us to gather again in community to make our building beautiful for the Advent/Christmas season.  There will be things to do for folk of all ages and at the end we will share a simple soup lunch.  If anyone would be willing to make a pot of soup to serve 10 or so, that would be much appreciated.  Just let me know.

As a follow up to our worship study with Jennifer Davidson, we are inviting anyone and everyone who would like to contribute to worship planning for Sunday, December 9 to stay for the Spiritual Formation time after worship on Sunday.   We will work the text from Luke 1:68-79 (“Zechariah’s Song”) that we worked with Jennifer.  This is your chance to shape worship in ways that reflect your own spiritual experience as you contribute to the life of the community.

See you Sunday morning at 10:00 AM in the sanctuary for worship, sharing and learning.  Bring a family member, friend, colleague or neighbor (or three!) to join us.  Strangers are welcome, too!

May God bless us and keep us on the way,

Pastor Rick