When I have the time and when it seems right, I am going to be sharing on this site some notes and reflections from our morning worship at LaSalle Street Church. Some of you LaSalle folks may read this and wonder, “Is that the service I was at?” But I hope you might enjoy this “inside story” of LaSalle worship. For those in the wider community, I offer these ideas and reflections in humility, hoping that they may be of interest and that they might be a resource for your work. --Gary Rand
8/2/2015. Today’s worship gathering was the last gathering in a series called, “Invisible Issues.” Through the summer we have been focused on tough topics like homelessness, incarceration and addiction. (My wife, Lenora, gave the sermon on addiction. It is worth reading. Here’s the link.
Today, we focused on religious intolerance with a great guest preacher, Joe Morrow, from Interfaith Youth Core. If you don’t know this group check them out. They are doing incredible, much needed work.
As I planned and prepared for today, I was struck by the lack of worship resources that hold out a vision for community with those who live by other faiths. Michael Gungor’s song, Us For Them, inspired me early in the week, and that song led me to Isaiah 11 and the vision of the Peaceable Kingdom. I was grateful for the Gungor brothers this week. We couldn’t get it together enough to sing Us for Them, but we did sing Brother, a song by Michael’s brother, David, and his band, the Brilliance. The song begins, “When I look into the face of my enemy, I see my brother…”
I think the moment that most folks will remember from today’s gathering was a reading for two liturgists. They stood about 6 feet apart on the front platform of the sanctuary and alternated reading lines in a dialogue about the divisions and walls that we build between us. The reading was interrupted at three points by the singing of Kyrie. As they spoke and as we sang, a wall of cardboard boxes was built between them. When it was too high for them to see each other, they paused for the final Kyrie.
They began again with the words of Isaiah 11 and slowly began to take the wall down, one brick at a time. When the wall was almost removed, they reached across the remaining boxes, shook hands, and then in unison, recited the words of Isaiah 11:6. It was at that point that we sang the song, Brother.
This wall-building/wall-removing experience was not difficult to put together, but the impact was deep. It reminded me again of the power of strong images. It reminded me of the richness possible when music and text and visuals connect and when the congregation participates in the work.
The idea for the creation of the wall in the service, originated in a gathering I attended in the Iona Community a couple of years ago. It was a different text, but the Iona service was also built around the image of building a wall of boxes, dividing the group.
Finally, I was grateful to find a set of liturgies by Sophie Dutton called, Holy Darkness. It’s available from Proost. The text for the wall experience, came from there.