On Sunday morning I had the privilege of leading the service at St Clement’s. This involves fitting together a plan, largely drawn from the service book but taking account of the various options presented, liaising with the worship team to fill in suitable songs and then, on the morning, helping the service flow from point to point. Preparation and performance are wrapped up in a prayerful attitude; it is another Sunday, working with tried and tested liturgical materials, but it is also an offering to God and a time when a congregation of his people are gathered together to encourage one another in their worship and understanding.
I have led quite a few evening services at the church but I think only one morning service (and that was during the quieter, summer holiday season). It feels like a bigger responsibility, as there are many more people involved, although I seek not to take the smaller services for granted. It also involves a wider cast. I decided not to play in the band at all and also had people to step up for things like readings, prayers and the sermon. Within the planned structure, there is also some need for improvisation. For example, one of our readers was late in so I ended up taking on that passage as if it had been my role all along. I was also geared up to introduce the song after the sermon but Clint, who had been preaching, did it for me. Not a problem and I doubt many people realised; just like playing jazz, it is a gentle dance of listening and responding.
Afterwards, I received a number of encouraging comments but the one I took most to heart was that I had brought the service to a clear, well-defined end. That is something I still don’t have a clear strategy for (at evening services, I often invite the Rector to bring any notices he has in mind and then close the service with a blessing, if he is in attendance). Maybe following a scripted liturgical ending and then processing informally down the aisle to lead the queue at the coffee hatch is the best way to do it? It certainly worked that time although I will be sure not to take it for granted next time I get the opportunity.