A part of our liturgy with “less than ancient” origins is a phrase that we use to conclude the lay leaders’ announcements: “Worship is over; let the service begin”.
This component reminds us how experimental liturgy can be. Some borrowed words become sacred over time because of how they shape a community’s identity and inspire faithfulness. Even though we have only used it for a few years, this phrase has become so familiar that many of us would feel out of place if the words were missing. Newer members have no knowledge of Sunday mornings at our church without the phrase.
“Worship is over, let the service begin” entered our liturgy around the same time as when we were imagining how to extend the reach of our service into the community in new ways (under the slogan of “the church has left the building!”).The meaning that surrounded this phrase tapped into our identity and grew our serving a meal into our leadership in local organizing for housing. It grew our Open and Affirming invitation into our intentional presence with the LGBTQIA+ community in Orange County. The phrase did not make these changes happen, but it coalesced the identities of our people who were stepping out in faith.
The phrase inspires us to remember that our conclusion on Sunday morning is not the end of our life together. If we call one hour “worship” for its attention to spiritual expression and ritual, the remaining 167 hours of the week are opportunities to participate in living a life of faith that has been shaped by the liturgy (that is, service).
If some simple words can become sacred through their use in the spiritual formation of a community, how might we be transformed in a similar way through our service?
Experiment: Consider what type of service our worship is inspiring for you. What opportunities are there for you to live the values of our community in other areas of your life?