When I pastored congregations, I dispensed promptly with the announcements referring worshipers to their bulletins and only speaking of essentials and doing so at the beginning of the worship service just after the prelude so we could get on with what worship was all about.
When I retired and sat in pews opposite the pulpit I had to endure, with irritation growing, the seeming infinite announcements offered up by worshipers in those pews.
I wanted to shout out or signal with a hand slicing across my throat to the pastor or lay worship assistant to speed it up, cut it off, get on with it…and then I thought about that “getting on.”
Getting on with what? Proper liturgy, from liturgia meaning work of the people. Worship was the proper liturgia of the people. Worship — worthy of praise, us to God. It had to have form and substance. We had to give of our best to the Master, to use antiquated language, but how do you sing with a straight face “give of your best to the mistress”? And giving the best translated into the congregation sitting quietly while the minister and choir did all the work, efficiently, making sure the service never exceeded sixty-five minutes.
What about the reverse? God to us. Didn’t getting a message from God have something to do with preaching and didn’t praying have something to do with proper stuff out of a worship book read rather rapidly by the minister, and the final act of God to us, Holy Communion dispensed properly — the correct words, the correct hand signals, the correct bows and genuflections: “The body of Christ broken for you. Here’s a wafer. The blood of Christ shed for you. Here’s a thimble”?
Maybe those seemingly endless announcements and prayer requests all mixed together really form liturgia, the work of worship, the things we say to God and each other, the joys and sorrows and announcements about next Saturday’s garage sale in the fellowship hall. Perhaps then as we made it up from those pews to the table for communion, we had a bit better understanding of who we were standing with around that table and with whom we were sharing Jesus’ dinner.
Maybe these are offered during the only time during the week some people get to say something out loud and be listened to and accepted, that is, with this one exception — except for the time the little, old person who always droned on and on about this ailment and that, had to tell us about the intense pain of hemorrhoids. That was TMI and a legitimate pain in the…you know where. The person could have offered up a silent prayer on that one.
*idea from an article “Church is What We Create With Each Other” by Erin O. White published in the On Being newsletter, August 18, 2018