“Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow” -Swedish proverb • • •
One of the features of our morning worship is the sharing of joys and concerns. Each Sunday we know that there will be an opportunity for us to care for each other by bringing our needs, our hopes and our celebrations before the church family as a whole. Sometimes what we have to share is tough and tender. Other times it is playful and fun. It encourages us to know that others are with us in our life’s journey. It reminds us that worship is a time for bringing the events of our lives into the light of God’s grace.
On Sunday evenings we do it slightly differently. People at 3rd service fill out one of the prayer cards and place it in the offering plate. Then I, or one of the worship leaders, shares those with the congregation as a whole. The goal is the same. We want to celebrate happy events like graduations, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, retirements and Nobel prizes. We also want to share compassion and care when friends and family are struggling. No one should have to be alone in their need. So we invite expressions of thanksgiving, grief, hope and humor to be part of our worship together. It really isn’t a time for announcements.
We also don’t want to create a burden of expectation! When the opportunity is offered, that does not mean that each side of the congregation has to come up with something to share – are you SURE you don’t have a joy or concern? Positive? But it helps the service keep moving when those who do wish to say something raise their hands so that the person with the microphone can see you! It also helps not to wait till they have gone over to the other side of the sanctuary. The point is not to give that person exercise, but to bring us together in prayer. Holding the microphone up close is also helpful. Sometimes we are a little embarrassed to be speaking at all, so keeping the microphone away from our mouths helps us feel less conspicuous. Unfortunately, it also means that many can’t hear a word we say. We all think we speak louder than we do. It is a kindness to everyone when we speak out clearly and well.
I’d also suggest that detailed diagnostic information need not be included many times. If it is our own situation being shared, that might be different. But in lifting persons up in prayer it may not be appropriate to describe the medical status of others without their knowledge. My goal for prayers in public worship is to express our needs and our hopes in words that we can share together, so that all can say “Amen.”
Grace and peace,