Last night folks began to file into the sanctuary at the Church at Clarendon sitting in a space at the front of the sanctuary where a bit of light illuminated a Bible and a few pews. It was there that the noise of life and relationships took over the scene as people enjoyed speaking to old friends and new visitors alike.
As the number of people gathering increased the soft music in the background gathered volume as well. “South Side” by Moby hummed while people chattered. Slowly as the music shifted and increased in volume, the words spoken by those in the sanctuary found greater volume. The room was getting louder and louder. Moby’s song “Machete” began to pound hard. A conversation I was having turned into a discussion about the music. Wow…isn’t this a bit loud? The anxious song found hightened volume and people began to become distracted. Requests were made to turn down the music and then…
The music stopped and Rob Bell appeared on the screen at the front of the sanctuary. His Nooma video “Noise” began to play. “Noise” drew the stark contrast between the loud existence a few moments before and utter silence. The video is primarily a silent white type font on a black background that delivers a powerful word about the relationship between the noise in the world and the silence of God’s voice. The question is asked, if the voice of God can be heard through the noise in our lives.
As the sanctuary sits in an uncomfortable silence, the gathered are invited to pray silently as they prepare to move into a space of worship at the back of the sanctuary where a circle of chairs awaits the worshippers. Shortly, all gather and sing a soft chorus together and an ancient prayer is read calling all to worship. David Perdue provides a time of reflection on Ash Wednesday and Lent asking us to prepare the soil of our hearts and minds and lives for the planting of God’s seed. Passages from the Gospel of Matthew are read and another song is sung.
In the quiet of the lightly lit sanctuary the circle of people is invited to bury in the soil one thing they want to give up during lent. It is explained that instead of giving up something they love, they give up something they dislike in a confession of sorts and bury it in the soil that is contained in a planted in the middle of the circle.
The guitarist begins to strum and a short chorus is again echoed by the gathered. A moment is taken for a corporate prayer followed by the mesmerizing chant of “Lord, hear our prayer” in response to one sentence prayers given by the congregation. Again, Betsy Rice leads us into a time where we are now asked to think of what we buried and replace it with something that is glorifying to God (hopefully). Seeds are provided and each person is invited to plant their seed in the pot hoping to see young plants by the time of Easter.
One last chorus is sung and the blessing is given and all are called upon to “Go in peace.”