Summer Worship Themes 2023

After Lent, Holy Week and Easter comes the season that takes us all through the Summer and into the Fall: “Ordinary Time.” It may not sound exciting, but the scripture readings we’ll hear in worship lift up some important and provocative themes. Think of this Summer as being made up of three mini seasons:

June 4-July 9: the Season of Jesus Sending. Ordinary Season begins with Holy Trinity Sunday, when we’ll hear the Risen Christ’s’ so-called “Great Commission” (Matthew 28) – “Go and make disciples of all nations …” All through June and into July, a prominent theme will be what it means to live in the world as people sent by God. To do what? And what if Christ doesn’t just send, but actually goes before us? The order of worship and music in this mini-season will fit the sending theme, including use of procession and recession with the cross. This traditional practice, not necessarily used year-round, is meant to inspire us to take up the cross and follow Jesus in daily life.

July 16-August 6: Season of Wheat and Weeds. We’ll shift focus a bit to hear Matthew chapter 13. Jesus tells playful stories – parables – using mostly agricultural language of seeds, wheat, harvest, weeds and trees.  In doing so, he addresses the theme of how God’s power is at work in human communities. It’s relevant to contemporary topics, like how to be neighbors, diversity, social isolation, polarization, and so-called cancel culture: can a person be both wheat and weed? Again, the liturgy and music will emphasize the theme. One thing we’ll try is having extra hymns at the beginning of the service, in place of the prelude. If you like to sing, show up a few minutes early. We’ll try to use a variety of hymns, as fits the variety in the community!

August 13-September 3: Season of Holy Presence. This mini-season begins with the story of the prophet Elijah encountering the Living God in a quiet and desperate place. What does it mean for us, even today, to come into the Holy Presence? Expect the services to be contemplative and restorative, as we become busy with the beginning of a new school year. Linda and Pastor Kate hope to provide opportunities for centering prayer some time this Summer, as will fit this theme.

Also, the Book of Romans …
All Summer long, our second readings will be drawn from a particularly rich and challenging book of the New Testament: Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Some of us will be reading a modern and short introduction to this book, written by the scholar Beverly Gaventa for a general audience. A variety of discussion opportunities will be provided.

Artwork above is by Frank McClure, and is found on the Smithsonian Museum of American Art website.