Creating Worship and Why I’m Going to Stop

doing so much of it…I know the title got some of my fellow WUUCies to pay attention. If you’ve been at the Woodinville Unitarian Universalist Church much at all in the last three years, you’ve seen me up in front leading services quite a bit. Whenever I lead a service, I get a little bit of pre-service jitters, my hands go cold and I feel a little bit sick to my stomach. Every time. I can’t recall a single time where I start walking down the aisle ringing those chimes without some little flutter of nerves somewhere. By the time I drop the last stone in the bowl of water at Joys and Sorrows, though, I’m relaxed and ready to keep going. I know, it’s pretty much over by then–hence the relaxation.

If doing this makes me occasionally wake up in the middle of the night wondering about a niggling detail or has me not feeling like eating before I head to church, you might reasonably ask, “Why?…Why, Laurie, do you do this?”

The answer is simple and rather selfish. In spite of the pre-service jitters, it’s a lot of fun. There is a different and compelling connection to each and every person in the congregation when I stand up front that I don’t get when seated with my back to half the people in the room. I can see and feel it as I stand up there and ring the beautiful bell, or when I hold up a stone for the unshared joys and sorrows. Many of my fellow congregants have told me they enjoyed this or that hymn or poem, or that a particular sermon or poem moved them, or expressed enjoying how the whole service came together. I take no credit for any of the wonderful sermons that have been shared, but I do my best when I’m helping to bring it all together to find words in the hymns that support the message. I will pour over books of poetry to find something that fits the topic in an interesting or intriguing way, and I do this because I love it when all the elements of the service build off of each other to create something great.

I enjoy the ability to work with these outstanding people who come together to make a service happen. Between the minister or the speaker of the day, the musicians (can I just say AMAZING MUSICIANS) and the office staff, and all the other people who show up every Sunday to make it all work (sound, ushers, hospitality, greeters) creating worship is a collaborative experience. Lori V., our office administrator, makes the nuts and bolts of the order of service a breeze. Our minister is incredibly flexible, and every guest speaker we have had has been easy to work with. And, of course, having such compassionate people in the congregation to share the experience with has made it easy to get up in front. I have yet to experience anything less than kindness and understanding or gentle laughter when I make a mistake. (And believe me, there have been a few.)

But why, if I love doing this so much am I going to (almost) stop, and what does that mean anyway? After three years of at least once a month, I’m feeling like I need to let others step in and have some of the fun. For every Sunday that I “take” as Worship Associate, it is one less Sunday that others are able to step in and experience the fun and pleasure that comes from leading service. As I browsed the upcoming calendar for the fall, I found I could easily support each and every service that is planned through the end of the year. There are some wonderful things coming up–a “stump the minister” session where Lois will take questions from the box, the series Lois is doing on UU principles, the 20th anniversary celebration in October, a speech choir for the Transgender Day of Remembrance, Christmas Eve service…There are so many luscious topics to choose from, I could sign up for them all. But that would hardly be fair!

I have already given up my position as Lead Worship Associate and will run one more training in September. I know that others are going to step up and take the lead here, and it’s about time that we have some fresh faces up in front of us. I’m thinking once every couple of months, or so, should be more than adequate for me. It’s hard to give it up ALL together, so I’m keeping my name in the roster.

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