We're in the 4th week of the season of Lent now, and there have been some questions amongst the congregation about some of the 'different' sights and sounds in our worship space and worship service for this season. For instance:
What's that rock doing sitting on the floor at the front of the chancel?
Well, 'that rock' is serving as a symbolic tomb stone for what's buried beneath it. What might that be? Our "alleluias". It is one of the historic traditions in the worship of Western Christianity (that is, Roman Catholic and Protestant) to not use the word "alleluia" in worship during the season of Lent. The 'alleluias' then come bursting forth in abundance on Easter morning. Some churches make a point of showing this by "burying" a banner or other object with the word 'alleluia' on it, burying it either on the last Sunday before Lent or at the begining of the first service during Lent. At the beginning of our worship on the first Sunday in Lent, the people attending worship found a gold-colored card in their worship order / bulletin with the word 'alleluia' on it. We had the kids in the congregation go around and collect these from worshippers and we 'buried' them in the microphone jack box in the floor of the chancel. We then covered the box with 'that rock'.
What's with the broken pots?
If you look around the sanctuary, particularly around the baptismal font and on the communion table, you'll see some pieces of broken pottery, as well as some purple raffia (purple is the color for Lent). These are simply visuals (call them 'art', 'enhancements', 'symbols', whatever) that call to mind the theme of "brokenness", since our brokenness and our need for God's healing and forgiveness is one of the major themes of the Lenten journey.
And now, one question that nobody's asked, but I'm willing to guess that some are wondering:
Where'd the Gloria Patri go, and what's this Kyrie thing we're singing?
Glad you asked! Another worship tradition around the season of Lent is to make the 'mood' or 'emphasis' of the service a little more reflective. Along with removing the 'alleluias', many traditions indicate that some of the 'songs of praise', like the Gloria, are not used during the season. As part of our confession order, we're instead singing an ancient "prayer for mercy", known as the Kyrie, from the first word in it's original Greek text. The full text goes: Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison, which translates to "Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy." You'll notice that the version we're using mixes the Greek and English texts. The music for this version comes from the practices of the Taize Community in France, an ecumenical Christian monastic community.