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December 4, 2011

The Theatre of Church

by Brendan

I’ve been to many churches, been pleased with some of them, and am more-or-less content with my current church, Holy Trinity Episcopal in downtown Gainesville, FL.  But what I’ve noticed, in many of the churches I’ve attended (and at times Holy Trinity) is the service can miss the main point of a church service, a liturgy — the theatrical point.

For the sorts of churches I usually go to (Episcopal, Lutheran, Roman Catholic), the crux of the service is both to celebrate AND RECREATE the foundation moment of Christianity, the Passover supper (aka The Last Supper) at which Jesus instituted the Eucharist after a meal with his family and friends.

That moment when Jesus says the Word of Institution indeed happens weekly (and during the week) at my church.  Nevertheless, there are times when the crux of the drama, the main theatrical moment, is a bit buried, under the choir and music, under the announcements, under the celebrations for Girl Scouts, or our Young People’s Program, or the making of our AIDS quilt.

These are community aspects of church, and to be sure a church is a community, far more than it’s a building.  But it’s a mistake, at least in my mind, to too long delay or even bury the central theatrical point of the liturgy under the dozens of other things that it’s also possible to do in a church service.

There seems to be an issue with adding somewhat extraneous elements to a church service, elements that, if considered one at a time, each seem to be a good idea — BUT TAKEN ALL TOGETHER, distract focus from the main point.

As always, YMMV — Your Mileage May Vary.  (Or your opinion may vary, or your experience may.)

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