A Sacred Assembly for Worship, Reconciliation, and Connection
By Robin G. Jordan
Everyone who attended Moving Forward Together, I believe, came away with what they experienced were high points of the Sacred Assembly. I am going to share a number of my own personal high points with the readers of Anglicans Ablaze.
One of the highest points of the gathering, if not the highest, was meeting you face to face. A number of you introduced yourselves during the three days of the gathering. I would rank with meeting you all meeting several individuals who had communicated with me regarding various matters during the past eight years. We are now able to put faces with names.
A second high point of the gathering for me was meeting so many young pastors who are Reformed in their theological outlook. As I described the experience to a friend, it was like falling asleep in a bed of bluebells in the woods to wake up surrounded by the Fair Folk. They are not a figment of my imagination as I have been repeatedly told. They are real!
The English country folk at one time believed that if you went picking bluebells in the woods or fell asleep among the bluebells, you would be spirited away to the land of Fairie and never seen again. The beds of bluebells in the wood, hawthorn bushes, certain bodies of water, heaths, hills, mounds, valleys, and wells, and rings of mushrooms and toadstools, were believed to be the doorways between our worlds and theirs.
A third high point of the gathering for me was meeting one of my readers who is involved in small town and rural ministry. I live in a part of Kentucky that is largely rural. There is a great need for the people living in small towns and rural areas to hear the Gospel. Small town and rural ministry has its particular challenges, and I plan to post more articles on small town and rural ministry and identify more resources related to this important ministry in 2012.
A fourth high point of the gathering for me was singing hymns at the service of Holy Communion on Day 1, the services of Morning and Evening Prayer on Day 2, and the service of Holy Communion on Day 3, and hearing the congregation singing as one voice.
The church with which I am sojourning has an incredible music ministry. However, most of the songs used in the worship gatherings are praise and worship and contemporary Christian. The volume is cranked up so high so that the congregation feels the beat and does not hear themselves singing. The rational for the latter is to spare members of the congregation embarrassment that hearing their own voices might cause. As consequence the congregation rarely experiences singing with one voice. Rather than singing together, they sing along with vocalists, as we might sing along with our car radio, ipod, or CD player. It is not corporate worship but concurrent worship, not individuals worshiping together but individuals worshiping independently of each other in the same room.
A fourth high point was that the worship team that led and supported the congregational singing and provided the special music included a violinist. I have long advocated the use of all kinds of musical instruments in worship, not just the organ or guitars, a keyboard, and a drum kit.
A fifth high point was hearing the moving stories of Bishops Louis Muvunyi and Alexis Bilindabago who both lost close family and relatives in the Rwandan genocide. It was very clear from what Archbishop Rwaje and the other Rwandan bishops said, that they and the Rwandan House of Bishops wished to convey to their brothers and sisters in North America that they regarded reconciliation to be a very serious matter.
A sixth high point was hearing the energetic preaching of Bishop Julian Dobbs, Dr. Lyle Dorsett, and Bishop Thad Barnum. I have posted a link to the text of Bishop Dobb's address, "Come, Let Us Arise and Build."
A seventh high point was that Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje presided at the final service of Holy Communion of the Sacred Assembly. Archbishop Rwaje vested in rochet and chimera. During the Prayer of Consecration he used the simple gestures mandated by the rubrics of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and knelt to communicate himself. He invited the congregation to the Lord’s Supper with the Words of Administration from the 1662 Prayer Book.
An eighth high point was that the Moving Forward Together Statement recognized that those who come to Raleigh for the Sacred Assembly had different hopes and dreams for their future. Most of those present at the gathering came away with their hopes and dreams affirmed.
This list of high points is not exhaustive. There were certainly other high points of the gathering for me. They, however, will have to wait to another day.