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Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Great Lenten Experiment: Facing East

These are not the best pictures, taken as they were with a cell phone from the choir loft, but this will give you a sense of what we've been doing now for our Great Lenten Experiment.

As readers of this Blog will know, we are facing liturgical East during the Great Thanksgiving. To keep the solemnity of the Lenten Season, we have moved the Passing of the Peace from its status as 'half time' - a 'mini coffee hour meet-and-greet and an over correction of six years ago, to a liturgical action and part of the Eucharistic celebration.

The Peace is immediately followed by the Lord's Prayer. I've done that for purely pragmatic reasons. It's a good way to call the congregation back to prayer (Old habits die hard, and the Peace is still fairly raucous.).

As you can see, this is a good Episcopal congregation - everyone likes to sit in the back pews.

We are using Rite I at 8 AM and Rite II at 10. I must say, my experience thus far is that Facing East and Rite I go fairly well together. The more familiar language of Rite II seems to add to the oddity of Facing East.

This is the elevation, which the choir tells me is the most dramatic action of the Eucharist. Yes, we use Pita bread as well as wafers. We also offer allergy-free wafers.

The communion wine is a Tokay - not exactly white but easier on the fair linens and purificators than red wine. It's a compromise with the Altar Guild who are still asking women to blot their lipstick before coming to the communion rail - alas, to no great effect.

We have moved the Announcements to the end of the service, right after the Post Communion Prayer. The Benediction follows the Announcements and then the Dismissal.

It's an adjustment, but I think we've gotten most of the kinks worked out after three weeks. It will be interesting to see how it all flows when the bishop is with us next week.

So far, the response could only be described as 'tepid'. No one is wild about it - including yours truly - but it certainly is an opportunity to do what the bishop has asked us to do: to consider why we do what we do and how it is that our experience of worship glorifies God and edifies the people of God.

We've done a pre-survey and will do a post-survey during the first three weeks of Easter.

I'll let you know how it goes.

1 comment:

Jeffri Harre said...

Elizabeth, I'm really enjoying your posts about the "Lenten Experiment," and I'm looking forward to more of them. The pictures, even from a cell phone, really capture the flavor.