One of the things that the initial emerging/emergent movement scrutinized was the impact of praxis on faith. That is, how what you do impacts what you believe. (Most people accept that what you believe impacts what you do . . . “I believe in tithing, therefore I give to the church” or “I believe in safe driving, therefore I obey the speed limit,” but the writers were questioning how what we do impacts what we believe. The placement of furniture was one of the first changes these folks made, because, they felt, that the action of sitting in rows facing a speaker, as for a lecture, was one that emphasized the congregation’s role as audience and consumer. Because they felt very strongly in the priesthood of all believers, and an active, vibrant role for the congregation, they moved the furniture around so everyone was facing everyone else, moved the pastor into the congregation, took the band off the stage . . . and, by their action, impacted their faith.
Back on Week 13, you may recall we went to a service called The Well at St. Luke’s in Coeur d’Alene. This particular service does many of these things: seats in the round, a sermon style that specifically elicits congregational participation, a communion that is hands on, universal, participatory.
I’m not sure what the original vision for the 9am service was . . . I wasn’t part of the planning, and the few announcements I caught on it were sort of vague. One of the elements is a quilt with toys that was placed on the floor in the front for babies and toddlers to play on. Another was the willingness to let the toddler set wander the church during the service. (One little girl, about three, walked up to the side of the altar, and spent several minutes staring up a the ceiling fan, until a second little guy, probably just over one, approached her, at which point, she booked it back to her parents, leaving him to wonder what he’d done wrong, and then to toddle around, a bit wobbly, until he decided to head back to his parents).
The service itself was an abbreviated form of Rite II, with a short sermon, and several “contemporary” songs (played on guitar, fiddle, and banjo, including: Let Us Break Bread Together On Our Knees (Traditional), This Little Light of Mine (1920), Lord I Lift Your Name On High (1989), Come, Now is the Time to Worship (1998), Be Lifted Up (2003)), and short Eucharist, wrapped up in just over 30 minutes.
I’m not certain who the target audience was . . . one of the organizers said it was too early for her kidlet(s), and the age of the children in attendance jumped from <3 to the 5 junior high/highschool kids (four of whom came with the priest, the other, Farmergirl). Fr. Brian mentioned that the service was in flux, and might change as it went along . . . but no specifics on what that might mean. There were 35 in attendance, not including the 10-o'clockers who wandered in at the end of the service. It'll be interesting to see where it's gone at the beginning of next year.