l have heard the term "experience" used with worship services for a while. Our worship is to be a place where the community of believers gather to publicly worship and focus on God and in doing so experience God's presence in a unique way we cannot when we are on our own.
If we remember back to our early elementary days in school, how do we experience our world? Through our senses. For centuries, the Church has intentionally appealed to our senses to experience the story of God and humanity.
The pictures painted on the sealings of cathedrals, statues and icons, stain glass windows and the stations of the Cross—a|l appeal to our sight—telling the stories of scripture and our faith.
High liturgical churches have used incense to appeal to our senses—the sweet aroma of the prayers of God's people ascending to God, the purifying presence of God here in our midst. The feel of hymnals, kneeling, the Eucharist appeal to our sense of touch. Music and spoken word use our sense of hearing. So worship uses all of our senses to proclaim our love and praise of God as well as for us to experience God.
The liturgical colors of the Church year also appeal to our visual experience of worship and God. Right now, we are in what is often called "Ordinary Time" or as ”Kingdom Tide." This season focuses on the three-year public ministry of Jesus—his teachings and miracles. It is a time the Church remembers that our mission is to share the hope and life of Christ with the world—to go make disciples. During this season we use the color Green which symbolizes hope, life, anticipation, growth. These colors are seen in our sanctuary in the fabric or paraments we place on the altar and pulpit/lectern, in the stole the pastor wears, sometimes in the color of the clothing or scarves the bell choir and choir wear.
This year our services and sermons are not focused on the ministry of Christ since we are going through the Story—the Bible chronologically and we are currently in the Hebrew Scriptures. Yet we can learn from these stories in the Hebrew Scriptures. When Israel forgot their story—that they were chosen by God to reflect God's image to the world, they ended up following other gods, stopped living out the covenant defined in the 10 commandments, allowed the rich to get richer and forgot to care for the poor and stranger among them, God allowed them to reap what they sowed. First, they were divided into two nations—no longer united. Those gods they had turned to could not save them from enemy nations. They stopped caring for the marginalized, they became marginalized. They were taken into exile, kicked out of the land God had given them, their temple was destroyed.
The Church year (beginning with the first Sunday of Advent and ending on Christ the King Sunday) and the liturgical colors all are ways the Church tries to remind ourselves that we are on a mission from God-to grow as disciples and to make disciples—to help others experience God and grow in God's love and grace. As we journey through the Story, may we hear God's call to remember who we are and Whose we are. You are a child of God, here on a mission to reflect God to a world who needs to know God loves them and calls them home.