Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sacred Function

As my congregation experiments with having it's primary worship in the mid-afternoon, I've continued to enjoy the time for silent prayer and contemplation that has opened up at 10:00 AM on Sundays.  Sundays can be something of a hurly-burly for a pastor who doesn't lay the brakes on and center themselves spiritually. 

You can walk into the sanctuary and discover the heat has failed.  The person who was supposed to set up the communion can suddenly come down with the stomach flu.  You can realize your sermon, even though it seemed complete, would be vastly improved if you re-write the conclusion.  The projector for the praise presentation can fail.  All manner of things can have you running around like a headless chicken, stomping out fires.  This doth not lend itthelf to being the non-anxious, Christ-centered presence you need to be in worship and Bible study.  So I'm really appreciating the time of stillness.

The worship itself is as simple as simple can be.  A single candle with the Chi Rho symbol is lit in the center of a darkened sanctuary.  Then, you pray quietly for forty-five minutes.  That's that.

But after our first outing, I and my co-prayer both felt the need for some way to mark the time when it concluded.  "How about a simple bell or a chime," I suggested.  "That's just what I was thinking," she said. 

So that week, I looked around for something that might serve that purpose.  Perhaps a single tone chime, thought I.  But for some reason, likely my thrifty Scots blood, my first response to looking for something is to I already own something that will do this?  What can I kludge or cobble together that will serve that purpose?

I dug around in a bucket of old noisemaking objects that were helpfully given to my children when they were little.  I found half of a well worn pair of metal finger bells.  It seemed to have the potential to make the necessary sound.  But it was a bit muted.  I needed a metal striker.   So I dug around in my workroom.  There, I found a sturdy bit of metal that was part of an old dinosaur excavation kit from long ago, a chisel used to chip away clay that had been placed around some "fossils."  I struck the finger bell with the chisel, and was rewarded with a very pleasant and utterly appropriate  "tiiiiiiing".

At 10:00 AM last Sunday, our time of contemplative prayer began and ended with the sound of a child's finger bell being struck with a toy dinosaur excavation tool.

What matters to God is not how much a thing costs.  Or how shiny it is.  Or how valuable we think it is.

Their sacred worth can be found in what they actually do.