Worship in the Round
Passing the Peace
The Baptismal Font
Each time we celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism we, too, are reminded of the claim that we are God’s beloved. This Sunday, we will reaffirm our baptism vows with promise and prose, and with the sprinkling of water, we will be reminded that we are God’s beloved.
In Buchanan Chapel, the baptismal font is located at the entrance to the chapel. The placement of the font at the entry point of our worship space is not accidental. Because baptism is the means by which we enter the church, it makes good sense to keep the font there as a reminder that we belong to God and to one another. Each week as we enter for worship, passing by the font helps us to remember that we are God’s baptized people—claimed as God’s beloved—and nothing will change that.
When we celebrate a baptism at Jazz at Four, we rise and face the font (and the entrance to the chapel) to welcome the newly baptized into the life of our community.
You might see people dip their hand into the font as they enter or splash some water onto their forehead. These are ways we can use the cool water of the font to remember our identity as Christians—marked and called by God.
If you have not yet been baptized but seek to feel the welcoming presence of God through the waters of the font, reach out to Joe Morrow, who will set up a time to talk about this life-changing, light-breaking experience.
Back to top
in the Round
Did you know there is no evidence that for the first 1,400 years of Christianity the churches offered seating of any kind for worshipers? It’s true—no pews! Those attending worship could stand, kneel, and even walk around the sanctuary during the service. Quite literally, church was standing room only.
Worship was pretty interactive too. Worshipers had common words to recite, prayers to which they knelt, bread and cup they went forward to receive. There was so much movement during worship that no person, not even the minister, had time to sit down. It wasn’t until the Protestant Reformation, when many of those actions faded away and a long sermon was introduced, that the pew was born.
In the 1950s and 1960s, churches of every kind began to rediscover and reencounter traditions and practices from the early church. Communion began to reappear as a weekly celebration. Candles were relit. Common prayers renewed. Similarly many churches began to worship in the round as a way to recover what was lost with the introduction of traditional forward-facing pews.
At Jazz at Four, we worship in the round. While we still have places to sit, our chairs are ordered so that (like those who milled about ancient sanctuaries) we can interact with one another, see each other. The Communion Table sits in the center of the community and conveys our belief and faith-filled hope that God is with us, among us, in us. Prayer stations invite worshipers to physically rise from their seats throughout worship and offer written prayers to God.
At Jazz at Four, we are doing our best to rediscover that simple truth known by the early Christians: that we worship with our whole selves—body and mind—and that we do not worship alone but with and among the whole community.
Back to top
Passing the Peace
Extroverts might love it. Introverts might dread it. For some people, the moments following the Prayer of Confession can be the most awkward ones. For others, these moments are the best part of worship.
Once we confess our sins and missteps, we are reminded of God’s forgiveness made known to us in Jesus Christ. Then the worship leaders proclaim to the congregation, “The peace of Christ be with you!” and the congregation responds, “And also with you!” Then, chaos!
The band picks up, the congregation begins to murmur, throngs of people move back and forth—handshakes, high fives, hugs.
The Passing or Exchange of Peace is an ancient practice that has been part of the church’s life since at least the second century. Early Christians would greet one another with a “holy kiss” according to Scripture. Ancient documents and images (icons) tell the story of this practice evolving into a moment of forgiveness and reconciliation.
We respond to God’s forgiveness by exchanging signs and words of unity and of Christ’s peace. The Passing of Peace is a time when we extend to one another what we ourselves have received from God in Jesus Christ: we are forgiven and reconciled (reconnected) to God.
The Passing of Peace is not, then, simply a time of friendly hellos and small talk or a time of greeting those we know. In fact, this is no small task. Instead, this is a time when we participate in the reconciling love of God. It is an essential task of the church to break down walls of division and birth forgiveness and love.
So each Sunday we are given a chance to practice what we are called to do each day: greet with the peace of Christ neighbors and non-neighbors alike. If we do so, if we take this call seriously, we might just change the world.
Back to top
Do you know about the Rule of St. Benedict? This rule (guide) of life helps to order the common life of monastic communities—communities of persons, sometimes nuns and monks, who are bound by vows to a religious life. St. Benedict’s Rule offers this:
At the door of the monastery, place a sensible old person who knows how to take a message and deliver a reply, and whose age keeps them from roaming about. This porter will need a room near the entrance so that visitors will always find them there to answer them. As soon as anyone knocks he replies, “Thanks be to God”; then, with all the gentleness that comes from the fear of God, they provide a prompt answer with the warmth of love.
In the monastic community, the porter is the highest form of ministry. The act of being a porter is itself an act of worship.
At Jazz at Four, we too have porters or ushers. We call them Greeters. The word usher comes to us from a Latin word meaning “doorkeeper.” The ministry of ushers or greeters has been often compared to that of a porter in a monastery: the person who guards or opens the door, welcomes visitors, helps the sick and the poor who come, and spots any danger.
The concept of an usher is not new. In the Old Testament, there were positions addressed as “Doorkeepers” or “Gatekeepers” at the temple, and their roles were very similar to those of or ushers or greeters—to welcome those who came to dwell with God. In the New Testament, Jesus’ disciples are often considered ushers in the sense that they prepared the way for Jesus, kept order among those listening to Christ, and even brought people to Jesus.
At Jazz at Four, greeters welcome worshipers to the chapel, receive our gifts in the offering, and serve Communion. As with the porter, their act of greeting is itself an act of worship.
Greeters are called by God to make room so that all can worship God. Not only that, but greeters welcome God’s very self in the form of so many. Whether it be someone dressed in the finest of fashions or wrapped in a blanket, greeters welcome God.
If you feel called to this ministry, we welcome you! Greeters serve however many times they are able each month and greatly enable the community’s worship of God.
To learn more about this ministry and way of serving at Jazz at Four or to become involved, email Shawn Fiedler.
Back to top
For more information about Jazz at Four, contact Shawn Fiedler (312.573.3367), Ministerial Associate for Worship.