Monday, May 19, 2014

In the sanctuary and on the streets, alleluias and shared bread

Text posted first on Facebook last night.

Brewer Fountain, Boston Common

Two profoundly beautiful worship experiences today.

The first in the morning at Emmanuel Church in the City of Boston with Mendelssohn anthem; let's-tackle-this-one sermon with focused biblical analysis by the Rev. Pam Werntz; three baptisms; thanksgiving for 10 years of marriage equality; bread and wine blessed and shared; the final Bach cantata of Emmanuel Music's 2013-14 cantata season, glorious in praise and beauty. Candles and the play of light. Alleluias in hearts and voices.

The second, also with alleluias, a bit later in a very different setting: on Boston Common with Common Cathedral (often spelled common cathedral w/ no caps) in a congregation of mostly homeless men and women with some housed people as well, a dynamic young woman leading worship, and a youth group serving sandwich lunch before the service. A message of God's unconditional love for all and of God's very presence in our midst, a highly participatory service, with a structure but a lot of spontaneity (same structure as the other Sunday Eucharist but much simpler, pared down), and heartfelt Prayers of the People. Ragged at the edges in all the right ways, reverent, raw, with much assurance of forgiveness and comfort. Bread and grape juice blessed and shared. Sunlight, clouds, wind, the play of light.

Communion and contemplation in both places. And welcome. And song. And healing.

Not either/or. Both/and. The Church is a wide, deep, and diverse reality. Alleluia.

Emmanuel Church before the liturgy, 5th Sunday of Easter
Photos here are of parts of the worship space, the physical context. I don't take photos during worship; we do have photographers at Emmanuel who document some of our celebrations;  photographers and writers about common cathedral respect the anonymity and privacy of participants.

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