Applause in a Worship Service?
Posted by Rev Roger
Posted on September 10, 2017
This was part of my opening remarks at our Homecoming Service today. We had the traditional mingling of the waters in-gathering ritual for all ages.
Good morning! Welcome to a new church year. Whether you’ve been here for 70 years or just walked in 7 minutes ago, welcome home. Wherever you are on your journey, wherever you came from, whatever your immigration status or native language or faith, you are welcome here.
My name is Roger Jones and I am grateful to be starting my 10th year of ministry with UUSS. I’m also grateful and proud to be sharing the ministry with a colleague who is starting her 5th year with UUSS, Rev. Lucy Bunch.
We both appreciate our talented staff and lay leaders, and we appreciate all of you who make UUSS what it is by your presence and participation.
I’d like to speak to you about the risk of over-participation, and what I mean is too much applause in worship services.
Of course, the spirit moves differently in different people. We would never want to repress any individual’s authentic and spontaneous response to an aspect of the worship service. In fact, occasionally we might ask you to recognize a person or an event by applause.
However, as a large group of people together in worship, we can fall into an automatic applause, and then it builds and builds and builds — until it seems expected all the time. Then it’s not spontaneous.
So as we come together in our services, I would invite you, more often, to let your experience reverberate in the stillness. Feel it in your heart. Sometimes doing this makes it easier for others to receive the words or music that have just been offered if there is a spacious stillness.
Of course, sometimes the spirit will move a person to whisper, sigh, laugh, raise your hands, clap, shout or make another spontaneous response to part of a service, and we can strive to make space for that in our hearts as as well.
Let’s try experimenting with our awareness as we go through the weeks and months ahead.
But first, here is today’s opportunity to get all of our applause energy out in the open early in the service. It’s our monthly birthday recognition, which we do at each monthly inter-generational service. If you have a birthday during the month of September, please rise or raise your hand, so we can recognize you, and remain standing for our special UUSS birthday song.