Monday, July 16, 2007

Worship and Mise En Place

"'I try to make no mistakes so as not to distract the congregation from the experience of worship,' (Mauricio) explains matter-of-factly. If he drops the Gospel book or trips over the altar rail, people will pay more attention to him than to the service. By Mauricio's logic, helping people concentrate on their prayers through a seamless performance on his part allows the congregation to participate more deeply in worship." -- The Close, Chloe Breyer


If you're a line cook, before the dinner rush begins, you're expected to have your mise en place all set up and neat. If you have to stop in the middle of assembling a recipe to slice up a shallot, dice some carrot, search for that container of basil, well, what the chef will do will certainly involve profanity and quite possibly include violence.

And that's for work done behind the scenes.

How I would like it for all UU worship and program committees to have as their Sunday vision the idea that you don't want to interrupt congregant's commune with the divine. Announcements, if given, are read smoothly, not, "Does anyone else have anything?" Any lector duties are planned out -- no spontaneous, made-up, Calls to Worship, please.

Each step should be carefully and clearly explained. Unexpectedly bursting into song is great on Broadway, but a bit disconcerting to visitors. "And now, we will sing our affirmation, printed in your order of service."

Both lector and speaker should arrive at least a half hour ahead of the service. Both should do their own mise en place -- where are my notes? Where is my reading? Are they in order? Do I have all the pages? Can I go smoothly from one to the other?

There are so many spontaneous things we can't help -- the two year old who pipes up in the middle of the children's story, the old man who takes 10 minutes in joys and sorrows. And that's going to happen. The congregation's job is to keep things fresh. The lector and speaker's jobs are to keep things smooth. Professional. To not interrupt the experience of worship.

LE, who has finally been pushed over the edge of sloppy programming

1 comment:

ms. kitty said...

What a terrific post, LE! I'm saving it to give to our worship committee when we take up our cudgels in August. (Cudgels being an aggressive euphemism for a flaming chalice.)