Sunday, February 06, 2022

Worship Perspective

I spoke with the worship leader today about the sparse attendance (and weak singing) of those at the first service, the traditional service, this morning. I felt for her deeply, as she tried to bring life and worship out of those mumbling along to a hymn they were not that familiar with, as it this experience was so familiar to me from the times I led worship* at our previous church.  My eldest once joked "The classic Concord Covenant hymn is Kathy playing a great accompaniment while the congregation stands and reads silently from the hymnal. But all four verses, of course."

She did not seem to understand what I was saying and was even sensing a criticism on my part so I repeated myself, and she nodded in a cloudy way. She was not distressed at the weak participation, as compared to second service. She was grateful for any, as her experience has been leading the worship band before a camera with no congregation for almost two years.

Of course. My experience has been at the times when worship opened back up to in person for at least some people, and I was comparing that to my historical experiences over almost 69 years. She, still in her 20s and now tasked with the creation of the worship environment, is comparing to the two years in the wilderness of Covid. I have not been in attendance to experience those Sundays and didn't factor them in.

Related. Attendance is coming back up at second service, but volunteering is way down across the board in all ministries.  People have gotten out of the habit, and we are creatures of what we see and hear.  If we do not see the need, it does not occur to us.

*I noticed today that while some people, especially those like me who are very attentive to the letters on the page say "worship," the more usually pronunciation now is "worshup."

1 comment:

Douglas2 said...

while the congregation stands and reads silently from the hymnal.

Unlike pre-covid, I'm now one of the silent ones in the congregation.

I'm really happy that we're no longer forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.

But as we're gathered together on one room, I can't help but be conscious of the age and health profiles of those (appropriately distanced) around me.

Because of my employment, I interact daily with a lot more people than most of the other congregants. And if there's anything that could make a potentially-infected 'me' 99-times-more-infectious than just being in the room and breathing, it is singing¹.

Maybe it is the decades-ago vocal training, but even in singing very quietly, I can tell that my between-phrase breaths are overcoming the normally-good-seal at the edges of my mask, and that my mask isn't built to accommodate opening my mouth as much as I instinctively do when I sing.

So I participate by reading along with mouth closed and no vocalization. I know that I'm missing out on some of the neurophysiological benefits and pleasure of worship, and that not having such hearty singing to join may dim the endorphin and dopamine boost in others. But so far my off-the-cuff cost-benefit analysis tells me that I'd feel horrible if I learned that I'd come to church with an asymptomatic infection and others had health complications as a result.

I've kept very quiet about this decision except to those who have noticed and asked, and I'm not trying to change anyone else's practice. I am just doing myself what seems most prudent.