Monday, January 16, 2017

This evening

Only a few people of my age and older (and some younger) go to the evening service; it tends to be for young people: post high school, some post uni.

I both liked it and didn't.

Liked for: the casual friendliness, the obvious commitment and capability of those serving as compere, cantor and teacher, they were all very good, the disarming simplicity of the service, the outstanding musicianship of cantor and musicians.

Didn't like for: AV system failure (why is this hard to failproof?), prayer time, chat sessions, lack of rehearsal with musicians 'musos' having to be reminded to start playing, casual 'hi' and 'see ya'. Some formality would work, lending an air of respect of the congregation to the gathering. It doesn't need to be much, but an intentional start and an intentional ending: used to be 'call to prayer' and 'benediction'. Together they remind one that this is not a nightclub, even if in casual language. Purposeful start and finish also give polish to the proceedings (not like a performance, although it is, incidentally, but like the congregation is worth a good experience).

Prayer time almost felt like the compere was embarrassed, although I knew she was not. We had a few moments to pray for another in the congregation. Good idea, in some ways, but generally private prayer one can do at home. Prayer is a vexed problem at our church. We don't quite know what to do with it in a service, and few work well; although some have been spectacular.

The 'hi to neighbours' segments I found awkward; mainly as there was no one near me (another worrying indicator). But that aside, awkward anyway.

Discussing the sermon in small groups is also a good idea, but execution needs work. There was plenty in the sermon for a huge conversation, but too much for a small chat.

The cantor had a fine voice, and stage presence, but I found her 'ecstatic frown' off-putting. The songs were also musically demanding and not real good for congregational use, IMO.

All said and done, I know the target group loves the service. I still hark back to past joys of Anglican Evensong and Evening Prayer. They do it for me, and probably always will.

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