Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi
Here are some examples simply to suggest a range of ways of thinking about how we might enhance the worshipers’ experience. We all have rituals we favor and maybe we observe hiccups in the flow of the service we would like to cure. Discussing these and learning what we and the rest of the congregation value will surely deepen our understanding, bring us ever more fully into the celebration of God’s grace, and be empowered by the worship experience to be of greater service to the world.
(1) For the advance GHTC weekly E-news or Digital Bulletin, a brief note about why a hymn we will sing has special meaning, or a particular worship element appropriate to Sunday’s worship such as a window or banner or ritual element or instrument, or the meaning of worship itself.
(2) For those who desire, developing a list of different devotional options as we approach the communion rail to help us prepare ourselves as we await the gifts of the Eucharistic elements. (For example, it was helpful to a new Episcopalian to be given the suggestion to focus on one of the six chancel windows or a figure in the reredos.)
(3) Examining how the printed service bulletin might be more useful to our visitors as they follow the liturgy, both week-to-week and throughput the liturgical calendar, perhaps by conceiving it less as mere instructions and more as a work of art, balanced with considerations of expense.
(4) Creating a policy on applause. On one hand, applause is a way of gratefully acknowledging those who contribute to our worship experience and to the life of the congregation. On the other, the entire congregation is performing for God -- the congregation is not the audience; God is, and applauding ourselves is unseemly.
(5) (a) Studying whether a few rows of pews at the front of the nave might be removed to allow more space for special worship and other activities. (b) For services where relatively few people are anticipated, consider roping off back pews to enable a sense of closer community.
(6) Study the possibility of incorporating occasional liturgical dance.
(7) Considering whether visual projections other electronic enhancements for worship might ever be appropriate.
(8) Finding money for purchasing vestments and other furnishings for standard liturgical year colors.
(9) Consider the meaning of the acolyte’s cross at the concluding 10:15 Sunday procession, and whether it could remain in a bracket affixed to a pew nearest the tower door until the congregation departs.
(10) Encouraging more pauses for reflection during the Sunday services at key points in the liturgy, for example, after the Collect for the Day, after the lessons, after the sermon, after the Sanctus et Benedictus while folks who wish to kneel are taking their places, and generally to acknowledge we wait upon the Lord.
(11) Study the advisability of creating a “contemporary” service — what would this be like? — who would attend, and how would it honor our heritage? — when would it be scheduled? — how would this affect both membership and a sense a Cathedral community united in diversity?
(12) Study how forums and other educational programs might enrich, and be enriched by, our corporate and personal worship.
(13) Create a brochure introducing visitors and newcomers to our worship practices in our sacred spaces. Work with Newcomers Committee.
(14) As a Committee, visit our sister Cathedral, the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, as a learning and team-building experience, and as a gesture of neighborliness.
(15) Discovering or creating an explicit motto or policy for us (and the Cathedral) to the effect that we do our best (1) to help everyone know what each participant is expected to do, and (2) to be understanding when there is a flub.
(16) Explanations of seasonal and occasional changes in the liturgy (for example, the congregation prays the Psalms in summer; the Choir otherwise chants them, and the Pascal candle at memorial service).
(17) Suggest the clergy reinforce the training of Eucharistic Ministers by reminding them of the BCP words to be spoken to each communicant, regardless of age.
(18) Examine the customs of liturgical practice by season and recommend to the clergy keeping or changing them, for example, the omission of Old Testament readings in the summer, whether Eucharistic Ministers should always be vested, etc.
(19) In the Committee's job description, work toward a comprehensive recognition of all worship elements by adding things such as flowers and children's presence and participation, as areas Committee might find ways to encourage and support.
(20) Examine our frequency for the use of incense -- when is it appropriate and what does it mean?
(21) How do we evaluate the suggestion that a font or vessel (stoup) of holy water be available in the tower or at the entrance to the nave? How do we evaluate concerns about hygiene and disease?
(22) Would "notching" the 8 am service pages of the printed bulletin help newcomers at 10:15 realize the booklet contains two somewhat different services?
(23) Is it worth the effort (and is it likely to succeed?) to train the children to process behind the Scripture when they depart from the front of the nave for Children's Chapel?
(24) Suggest that Prayers of the People, rather than emphasizing our petition for finding what is common, instead focus on valuing differences as gifts by which we can be mutually enriched.
(25) Promote a better understanding of what the "peace" is, and means, in our liturgy.
(26) A diversity of opinion exists about the congregation's expectations of our preachers. Some wish our preachers to speak for 8-10 minutes at most on most occasions, and to illumine a scriptural text appointed for the day with application for our lives.
(28) Candles are routinely lit as the service begins to mark the holiness of this time, the illumination that comes from God, and so forth. Should water be poured into the baptismal font at the same time to remind us of our baptisms? -- except for services when there are baptisms, when the pouring of water is part of the sacred ritual?
(29) (a) Within GHTC individual
practices vary about using the offering plate to support the Cathedral
and its work, from those who pay a yearly pledge in one lump sum on one
hand, to those on the other who use the plate each Sunday to render their
support. Surely all support in whatever manner is welcome. But are their
spiritual considerations which might guide the worshiper in determining
which practice is most appropriate in each situation? How can folks find
the most appropriate way to decide -- since all things come from God --
not "How much should I give?" but rather, "How much should I keep?"
(30) If the Dean might endorse and the Bishop might permit, as a trial or draft offering to the tradition of the ongoing revision of the BCP, and in the recognition of "original grace," we might consider discussing the possibility of a preface to the beautiful and meaningful words of confession found BCP 360, such as
Most bountiful God,(31) Is there enough diversity in our worship and liturgical styles to meet a range of spiritual needs of the congregation?