Monday, February 28, 2011

Black History Service at COTM

Last Sunday we celebrated Black History Month a the church. We had a guest musician--Glenn Marais--which presented some interesting planning challenges. Glenn is a performer and educator interested in bringing change into the world through education. He is primarily used to giving an hour and a half long presentation to high school groups and other venues. And while a musical tour of black history would be interesting, it wouldn't necessarily be the gospel. And my people need the gospel, yeah know? So the challenge was to squeeze his presentation into a 45-minute "Liturgy of the Word" part of the service.

Because Glenn does not know how to lead congregational singing (hymns and such), I had to rely on my choir to lead the few hymns we did a capella. I used the RCL's Hebrew Bible lesson (aka "Old Testament"), but changed the Gospel reading. I also selected a relevant Eucharistic Prayer. I had to cut or streamline a bunch of other stuff, and those you interested in liturgy might like to see the leaflet I made:

Click here to the leaflet.

What the leaflet does not reveal is some of the cool stuff that happened spontaneously. For example, after communion someone passed me a note asking whether I thought we should lay hands on Glenn and pray for his ministry. So at announcement time we did just that--forming a holy-huddle of hands around him as I prayed that he would receive the Spirit's gifts of wisdom for his work of spreading a message of peace and reconciliation. We've only done this a couple of other times since I've been at Messiah, but the nature of this community is that they are totally prepared to "roll with it." Afterwards I was telling someone about how the Quakers handle "leadings" of the Spirit--there are many useful pieces of wisdom from that tradition.

Glenn was quite humbled and moved by the experience. I was pleased about that, too. Our community might be struggling to figure out the money thing, but we certainly have some solid spiritual foundations on which to build!


PS. I think most churchy people are service bulletin/leaflet connoisseurs. If you are of that mindset, you will find some of the things in this leaflet design worth noting, like the deliberate creation of margin space to put extra notes and marginalia. Most of this design has evolved over the years, especially when my former Music Minister, Eric, took over doing the leaflets. We went back and forth on the design and made huge strides--even just switching over to InDesign (previously they had been done on Microsoft Publisher) was a huge step forward. It gave him (or whomever was making the leaflet) far more dexterity. Since Eric left we hadn't had a leaflet--I just didn't have time to make one with everything else going on. But last week it was necessary because of departures from the BAS Glenn's visit inspired.

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