Friday, May 12, 2006
The Perfect Order of Worship
Most churches have an order of worship where they tell you in advance everything you are to expect from the service. We're too cheap to print out a bunch of flimsy handouts to get trampled on the floor of our church and turned into paper airplanes, so this is what you get instead.
Order of worship is subject to change without notice. All rights reserved. Your mileage may vary. Subject to availability. Void where prohibited. Subject to restrictions. Contents under pressure. Some settling may occur in transport. We incur no responsibility for any spontaneous combustions that may occur during our worship time. No guarantees or warranties express or otherwise are made.
Coffee and bagel time
Coffee and bagels are available for the early birds who show up before the service starts. That would be most of us. We ask for a donation in the paper cup centrally located on the table. No pushing or shoving. No running. Fisticuffs are to take place outside on the sidewalk or out back in the parking lot, with sleeves rolled. No flailing and hair-pulling or knock-down drag-out fights in the art/trophy area, where the bagels and coffee are located. Please try to avoid bringing coffee into the sanctuary no matter how desperately you may need it. Despite how smart and conscientious you may be, there will always be at least two people less caring and civilized than you, usually with one chasing the other, who will more likely than not knock it over and leave a big nasty stain which won't get cleaned up until Saturday. We hate cleaning the carpet. Please don't make us do it more than we absolutely have to.
The call to worship.
Once your coffee is almost cool enough to drink, and you're about halfway done with your bagel, someone will get on the microphone and begin yelling for people to please come sit down so we can get started. Usually this will be Andy or Mary, but other people have been known to take part on occasion as well. Once the shrieking and hollering starts and your friends begin disappearing, it's usually a good time to follow them into the sanctuary. Don't make us turn the lights on and off.
Once all of us have drifted in like sheep, and chair disputes have ended, worship begins. Usually there are about five or six songs. Please, no stage diving. One of the people authorized to sign our checks is likely to get crushed and then nobody will pay your bail. You'll notice that our drummer is in a Plexiglas cage. Most sound guys will tell you that that is to balance out the sound so he can play loudly without our getting sued for eardrum damage. Don't listen to them. The real reason, as all of us who have seen Spinal Tap know, is because drummers are prone to spontaneously combust. (Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year. It's just not really widely reported.) So to protect our hefty equipment investment, and our fellow worshipers, we have installed a durable Plexiglas blast shield for your protection.
During our worship time, near the end, you'll notice pairs of people coming up and standing in front. These are the virgin sacrifices. Actually that is a blatant flat-out lie. We apologize. They are actually our prayer teams. If you want prayer for something, go up to them and they'll agree with you in prayer. All prayer requests shared are kept strictly confidential, so feel free to cut loose.
* Greeting time when we pass the stripey hat.
Once we're all tuckered out from worship, someone, usually Andy, will come up and put a swift end to it. The star indicates that most of us feel compelled to stand and wander about once we've been told to greet each other. You'll notice that most of our chain-smokers will make a mad dash for the front door at this time. As we do not allow smoking inside of the church, they have found that this is the only time in our liturgy when grabbing a mid-service nicotine fix is convenient, and it's also the easiest time to bum a match off of someone.
Often we'll have some pressing question we're to ask each other to break the ice. Otherwise it turns out kind of like a junior high dance, with people standing in neat rows daring each other to take the stripey hat, but not talking or looking at anyone they don't already know. By now you're probably dying to know what the stripey hat is. Excellent. The stripey hat is actually how we receive our offering. It looks like a dr seuss cat-in-the-hat hat, so it's hard to miss. YOU CAN NOT TAKE IT HOME WITH YOU. The idea of the hat is that you take it and then pass it to someone else. You do not have to have money in order to hold the hat, but if you don't pass it to someone else, you're hoarding our offering and we won't be able to pay rent. There is no shame in taking or passing the hat. Drop your checks, cash, jewelry, watches, or money orders into it joyfully, as unto the Lord.
Some of us take communion during this time as well. There is a chair with some shiny gold saucers on it. On those saucers are the extra revelations of our angel Leroy. No. Again we are lying to you. How do you stand it? They actually contain the elements of communion. The idea, which the bible gives instructions on, is you grab a piece of unleavened bread, which looks suspiciously like a piece of a cracker, and a little plastic cup of watered down wine, and eat the bread and drink the wine, the body and blood of Christ, in rememberence of Him
Once we've all run around and let out our extra energy, and the hat has circulated at least once around the congregation, and the chairs are mostly pushed out of place, someone, usually Andy but not always, will come up to the microphone and begin the impassioned plea for people to return to their seats. Oftentimes the lights will flicker on and off for dramatic effect. Please return to your seats when asked. There will be plenty of time for milling around and lolly-gagging after the church service. Now is the time to get down to the business of preaching. The time for tom-foolery and officially-sanctioned small talk has come to an end. Don't delay the inevitable or rock the boat.
The five minute teaching from amongst the masses.
We like to share the wealth. Seeing as most of our ministers with bible school training got it via mail order, we don't feel that hearing from God is something only one of them can do. Everyone in our church could potentially be sitting on a great sermon, so we like to let everyone get a chance to speak. So we have a five minute slot. Occasionally we get some weird discourse on helicopters and UFO's, but 99.9% of the time or more it is a good message. Sometimes this happens before greeting time, so if it does, don't freak out like you're losing your memory or something.
This is our full feature-length sermon, usually 30-60 minutes in length, complete with altar call at the end. Very chic. Usually Andy gets stuck doing it, but sometimes other people do it. Nobody does a good preacher voice, so we just talk like normal people when we do it. We'd do a responsive reading as part of it too, except that a lot of people don't read English good like we do. If you happen to fall asleep, like an idiot, or if you like the sermon, but don't have the photographic memory you once had as a young lad/lass, and would like a copy of the sermon for home listening, you can get one for an unprecedented low price of $3.00. See Lou for details. You will not find anyone in our church who will offer you a CD for less than that, which is the cost of production. We'll even write your name on it in black felt-tip marker for that personal touch that'll impress your family and wow your friends. Very rarely are the sermons boring. And if they are, the seats are padded, unlike traditional church pews, so you won't be sore for having waited it out.
In order to eat, you must leave your seat. About half of the time, we all pack up and head out to a local restaurant together for some fine dining. No pushing and shoving. Please keep your heads and limbs inside of your vehicles. Because we're nice, we announce where it will be and give directions if it's someplace complicated. If you're not sure, ask someone with a big gut hanging over their belt. They'll know. This is called fellowship. Fellowship is actually scriptural, and comes from the Greek word meaning 'to fatten up the turkey'. That's probably a lie too, since none of us are cultured enough to know Greek and those Strong's concordances are very expensive. Anyway, this is our semi-monthly road trip and feeding frenzy. It's like being on a dinner date with Jesus and 70 or so of his unkempt embarrassing pals. Fellowship is a hoot and a good feed.
During the weeks when we're not out on the town, we order in and get pizza in the church, or have a potluck dinner. The same rules go here. No pushing and shoving. If we're ordering out, throw in some money. If it's a pot-luck, only one sweaty fistful of ham or whatever per person until everybody's gotten a chance to eat. We don't offer take-out, so you can only eat-in, so leave your extra napkins and coats with many pockets at home. If you take the last of something, don't taunt the people in line behind you with it. Would Jesus do that? That also goes for drinking out of the 2-liter bottles of soda, and eating out of the dishes people brought the food in. Come on. The ladle is for serving only. Just because you can fit it in your mouth doesn't mean you should have it. Others must eat too. And so on.
If it's a week we're going out for food, and it's your first time out to church, we pay for your meal. If that's not a good enough incentive to be seen in public with us, we don't know what is. If you're lucky, it'll be hot dog week, but sometimes it's Chinese or food court. It's always good. We go other places too, but those are our most common places.
We hope you enjoy our service.Add Your Comments and Ideas now...
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Refreshingly honest! I love the virgin sacrifice and "our angel Leroy"!
Posted by: Randy Ehle | May 12, 2006 12:52:53 PM
I'm using this, this Sunday. Should get some good mileage out of it.
Posted by: Jay Gainer | May 12, 2006 1:17:48 PM
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