Worship is a term which draws many images. In this case Worship involves the celebration within a church community which includes Jesus Christ, Christian Worship. This reflection is regarding my home church, on Palms Sunday. I find it to be a very unique celebration of Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem. In that it is a celebration of a community it is important to know the community to understand the worship of the community.
Plymouth Congregational Church has gone through a series of changes in identity, polity. Most recently it is a part of the United Church of Christ. Although the physical building is in the urban center of Syracuse, New York, the congregation members consist of people from a very diverse group in regards to geography. There are some members who travel near to twenty miles to attend on a Sunday. It is made up of Professors, Blue Collar and white collar workers, Gay & Straight which includes a diversified representation of family dynamics. Although the congregation is mixed racially, it is mainly White Middle Class Families. The congregation over the years has had significant milestones of social action and concern. Just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, an African Slave was jailed pending return to his owner. The congregation members at that time rose up and broke into the jail to free the slave so he could flee to Canada. This rescue was better known as The Jerry Rescue and was in response to the newly passed Fugitive Slave Laws. This rescue was one of the first challenges to the law. The church is a Just peace Church, Open and Affirming, and a Sanctuary Church. I describe the identity and brief history of the church because the community which makes up the church body plays a significant role in what forms of worship will be allowed. Given the church’s history of social action and willingness to be at the forefront of unique religious expressions, the form of worship in many ways is unique. Syracuse University has a college for Music and the music director is a Professor from the school and the church has given him significant leeway to introduce a wide array of musical and theatrical expression within the order of worship. He has also brought in a large number of student musicians which help to augment the worship service. This is definitely the case during the Palms Sunday service each year. It is mixture of new community expression and church traditions. The professor strives hard to develop a mix of favorite hymnody as well as new “sacred” music which is not readily accessed by a church’s musical director. All musical Selections are integrated with the liturgical season and the minister’s homily.
The congregation consider themselves as part of the Christian Community where Jesus Christ is Lord. It also recognizes that there are more ways to God than through Christ. God is present within the whole and not just on Sundays or only within the sanctuary. The ramps allow accessibility to the church regardless of one's abilities. The Narthex, entrance hall, affords visitors the first experience of the church community. There are about twenty to twenty-five origamis Peace Cranes within the center of the entrance there are thirty to thirty-five. A peace movement originated through the acts of a child in Japan, children within the community expressed their desire for peace roughly in the same manner. The Church’s philosophy statement and beliefs systems are posted for all to see; i.e. noting the church is open and affirming, etc. The Atrium is the first experience for a visitor of a church and its community. People then can enter the sanctuary through two large swinging doors. These doors are never to be closed during a service no matter what the weather or conditions.
Upon entering the sanctuary one sees a series of numbered & padded pews which are not secured to the floor so can be moved to meet the needs of the congregation and...
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