Sunday, April 10, 2016

When Things Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong In Worship

The day we set the Pride flag on fire (by accident, of course!) 

My most recent congregation was Reconciling (the third church in the nation, 1986!) and we often had a small Pride rainbow flag on the altar amidst the candles and other items relevant for the worship theme. One Sunday morning I was preparing to bless the offering, and when I approached the altar, I noticed a wisp of smoke, thicker and darker in color than the smoke emitted by the candles. 

As I looked closer, I was horrified to realize the Pride flag had fallen over, landed on a tea light, and was on fire! A moment of panic, a slight hyperventilation. What to do? 

Not wanting to disrupt the sacred moment or draw attention to the incident, I hurriedly instructed the congregation to close their eyes and bow their heads (which was not our typical practice) and while I prayed (extemporaneously, never wished for a memorized prayer more in my life) I moved the flag off the candle and quietly tapped out the small flame with my hand (ouch!).  When it was out, I moved the burned flag to under the altar cloth. 

At the leadership meeting the following week, I presented flag and told the story. We all had a good laugh about it, and replaced the flag. We may be the only GLBTQA friendly church in the nation that has burned the Pride flag during worship.

Things happen, you can’t control every element of worship. And you shouldn’t try. Worship is an act of love towards a perfect God by imperfect people. Don’t stress about mistakes in the bulletin or a page from your sermon going missing or a child having a massive meltdown during silent prayer time.  If you are too focused on worship being ‘perfect’, chances are you will not be able to immerse yourself in the act of worship or find yourself in the presence of God. Worship should be taken seriously, but not so seriously that one element going wrong will derail your whole service. 

If you are having trouble adjusting to leading worship on a regular basis or experiencing so much anxiety surrounding worship that you can't seem to relax and find the Spirit, consider a few sessions with us at Whole Soul Consulting. Visit us at for more information.    

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