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Reflecting on Order in Worship


I’m reading ANGELS AND DEMONS by Dan Brown (author of THE DaVINCI CODE). The book takes place largely in Vatican City, so much of the language takes on elements of “God talk”; and because I always seem to be thinking about worship, I was startled on page 188 of the paperback to come across this phrase:

            “Their minds were too filled with chaos to see God.”


Last Sunday morning in our worship, my pastor and I had tried to add a little “interest” to communion. We thought we each understood how it would play out, and we had printed what we thought were enough instructions in the order of worship to bring the congregation along with us.


As we got to the portion of the service which would contain the supper, things got a little out of control. The pastor got a little “lost” in the order and gave some incorrect instructions to the servers (in our case, deacons); that got us off on the wrong foot on our pathway to creativity! As usual, we rebounded well and went on as though all were well with us.


The instructions in the order of worship “did not compute” with the congregation, and suddenly we realized everyone was too confused to focus on the sacred event we had come to celebrate. I could almost hear them thinking, “What the…?” – not comforting words to a worship planner, by the way. The further we went, the more unsettling it all became.


In case I decide to run the “idea” for that service on this site, I don’t want to tell you what our plan was – because the plan itself was a good one, one we will likely try again in a year or two when everyone has forgotten about last Sunday!


One of our struggles as worship planners is creating an environment with as little chaos as possible. After all, we call it an “order” of worship… and order is the opposite of chaos. Peace is also the opposite of chaos, isn’t it? It might be good to keep those two words in mind when planning and executing a worship flow: keep it orderly and peaceful, avoiding any hint of chaos.


I’m hoping tomorrow’s service – one week after the chaos of communion – will be more peaceful and ordered; that we won’t have tried to be so creative that we might put up barriers that impede the action of God among us – filling the hour with so much chaos people might not be able to see God.


R. G. Huff

September 4, 2004