May 23, 2006

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“Spin the Bottle” Kiss of Peace and Communion While planning a worship service at Austin College in Sherman, Texas, one student said, “If we’re going to do the Kiss of Peace, can we play Spin the Bottle?” Although her comment was intended as a joke, she and the other students—with the encouragement of the college chaplain—developed a version of “Spin the Bottle” as an appropriate and authentic part of our Christian communion service. After the Invitation to the Lord’s Table, Eucharistic Prayer, and Words of Institution, a worshiper who was chosen before the service began, took an empty water bottle and spun it on the floor of the Chapel. When it came to a stop, the first worshiper and the worshiper toward whom the bottle was pointing met in the middle of the Chapel, exchanged the Mar Thoma Kiss of Peace, and then went to the communion table and served the Eucharist to each other. Then the next worshiper spun the bottle and met the person toward whom it pointed in the middle of the Chapel. They exchanged the Mar Thoma Kiss of Peace and went to the Table and served the Sacrament to each other. We learned about the “Mar Thoma” Kiss of Peace from an Austin College student who was part of the Mar Thoma Church of India. We have begun to use it often in our worship because it is an appropriate and non-threatening way for worshipers to touch each other. To exchange the Mar Thoma Kiss of Peace, two worshipers face each other, extend their hands forward, and then touch hands so that the right hand of each worshiper is between the palms of the two hands of the other. One worshiper then says, “The peace of Christ be with you,” and the other responds, “And also with you.” Students find this to be an enriching part of worship because—with a little assisted reflection—they realize that they might be paired with a close friend or they might be paired with a fellow worshiper whom they had not even known before the service began. In either case, worshipers are reminded that our lives as Christians—as the Body of Christ in the world—might involve both those to whom we are closest and others who we may not know at all.
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Igniting a Sense of Awe Are we losing our sense of “awe”? I find myself overwhelmed by rocketing gas prices, by the helplessness I feel as I pass a group of homeless men sleeping in the 99 cents store parking lot late at night, and the discontent I feel as I watch my two brothers debilitated by cancer…both with young families. Where is God? Does He care? Then I happened upon Don Saliers’ book, Worship Comes to Its Senses (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1996), which makes me come to my senses, changing my vantage point, to God’s perspective. I realized that my problems were larger than life because I did not think "highly" of God, I had lost my sense of awe. In Matthew 9, some friends bring their paralyzed friend to see Jesus. Jesus said to the man, “Get up, take your mat and go home” (Matt. 9:6). Then in verse 7, the crowd was “filled with awe, and they praised God”. The crowd's view of God was enlarged! They praise God with awe. Saliers encourages us to reconnect real life to the worship of the God of the Universe! He accents Jaroslav Vajda’s new hymn “God of the Sparrow God of the Whale” which crosses generational lines and is a contemporary way to express to our awe in biblical tradition. Lyrics after the jump... * * * * * * * God of the sparrow God of the whale God of the swirling stars How does the creature say Awe How does the creature say Praise God of the earthquake God of the storm God of the trumpet blast How does the creature cry Woe How does the creature cry Save God of the rainbow God of the cross God of the empty grave How does the creature say Grace How does the creature say Thanks God of the hungry God of the sick God of the prodigal How does the creature say Care How does the creature say Life God of the neighbor God of the foe God of the pruning hook How does the creature say Love How does the creature say Peace God of the ages God near at hand God of the loving heart How do your children say Joy How do your children say Home (C) 1989 Jaroslav Vajda, “God of the Sparrow God of the Whale” Found in the United Methodist Hymnal, United Methodist Publishing House, Nashville, 1989, no. 122. This hymn provides with us new images of God and yet stirs questions that we must ask. I may have questions that I have no answers for; still I cannot loose my sense of wonder and awe of God. Matt Redman said, “I love the cathedrals in England, because they make me look up and make me feel small.” I needed to reignite my sense of awe with Salier's book and this hymn. Vajdav helped me look up,feel small, with awe.

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