I recently had the opportunity to worship at a Unitarian Universalist Church that I had never attended before. As much as I love my job as a Parish Minister, one of the things I miss the most is the opportunity to simply attend worship. So it is always a joy when I get the opportunity to be a participant, rather than a leader, in worship. So I was grateful that the training I was attending encouraged us to attend worship between sessions.
I will admit, this is a bit of a “Busman’s Holiday.” It’s difficult for me to turn of the worship planning part of my brain. When the prelude begins, a part of me sinks into the music – and another part wonders if that song selection would work for my upcoming services, and if the pianist is playing the version I would select. During the moment for all ages a part of me enjoys the story and another part is trying to figure out what message the Religious Educator is trying to impart. And on. It is hard to really experience when you are busy analyzing. And often the analysis boils down to: well, that’s not the way I would do it.
And what a gift that is! If everyone lead worship exactly the same, how bored we would be. At any moment in worship there will be elements that work for you and elements that distinctly do not. There are things that bring you joy and things that you will twiddle your thumbs through. That is true of any given worship service, but it is also true of any congregation. Different congregations find joy in different things and are called to different modes of worship. The times in worship that I found the least appealing? Those were the things that many of the people in the congregation came for. I was struck anew that this was the point. Not that worship appealed to me, but that it appealed to so many different people, had some many things for so many seeking spirits.
Not every church should be UUCV, much as I love this place. If you get the opportunity to visit another congregation, I would encourage you to do so. Perhaps there will be something there that touches your soul. At the very least you will get the opportunity to watch other peoples’ souls be fed, and that is a gift indeed.