Worship Service Planning 101: Jewish Pastries, Liturgy MIA and more

by Bobby Gilles

in Church Communications

A church campus, built in 1915 as an elementary school, rests at the corner of Silver and Ekin. A metaphorical nut drives too fast down a residential street. A literal nut finds itself in the clutches of a squirrel. It’s just another morning in Anytown, USA. A church creative team prepares for the coming Sunday’s worship service.

They’re in the final week of a sermon series on the book of Esther called Steady: Standing Strong In A World Of Chaos. Pastor Jonah Sage will preach Esther 5-9. Worship Director Justin Shaffer is still away on a mission trip. (see the various ways this church creates pieces of communication that come out of these weekly meetings here)

This Week’s Players (in alphabetical order)

  • Lindsey Blair – Women’s Director
  • Bobby Gilles – Associate Pastor
  • Stephen Pierce — Family Pastor
  • Jonah Sage – Lead Pastor

Jonah: let’s pray. (they pray)
I feel like I got real nervous about this last week – this sermon is covering five chapters so I’m not sure what text to put in the bulletin.

Bobby: since you’re ending with the focus on Purim and we’re going to give everyone Hamantaschen, how about Esther 9:20-22 in the bulletin?

Jonah: Sounds good. “Renewal” as mission strategy is one of the things that has made Sojourn different, and we haven’t talked explicitly about it for awhile. That’s what I want to hit on.

I don’t know if my opening works (an analogy about how when your arm is asleep, you can’t feel it but you know it’s there).

Stephen: Maybe it would be better to describe how you know that Dad is home even before you see him because you get a sense. Something changes in the house. It’s his presence.

Jonah: Yeah, maybe. Overall, I want our people to feel like when the road is tough, trust God. Not that they be like, “Yay, we get to suffer,” but to have an anticipation that God is doing something. What’s tricky is we can’t assume what God is going to do.

Bobby: In your manuscript you mention a video. Are you talking about the Bible Project’s Esther overview video in Rightnow Media?

Jonah: Yeah, it’s great.

Bobby: We’ll put a screenshot of the video on the slide.

Jonah: Good. So obviously I can’t preach every verse in these five chapters but I’ll hit all the big reversals. And I want to say that when Xerxes can’t sleep and he asks for his history book, it’s basically like he’s scrolling his own Instagram feed.

Everyone laughs.

Lindsey: The whole story is so funny.

Bobby: Haman and Mordecai (in a very deadly way) is like the comic relief storyline in the larger narrative.

Jonah: And can you imagine the scene where Xerxes leaves the room, returns and sees what looks like Haman accosting his wife?

Anyway, the highlight isn’t the death of Haman, the Jewish victory in battle, or the ascent of Mordecai, but the invitation to renewal as a way of life (through Purim). We have to remember our story, but biblical remembering is never just about information. We are renewed through biblical ritual – remembering with our bodies. Purim wasn’t a nationwide Bible study, it was a feast. And then I’ll talk about the Hamantaschen.

Deacon Lauren Sims has volunteered to bake hundreds of Hamantaschen, which will be a surprise awaiting the congregation after the service lets out. Hamantaschen are traditional Jewish, triangular pastries made to resemble the three-cornered hat worn by Haman. Read about the symbolism and history here. And see photos of how Sojourn’s Hamantaschen turned out here.

Jonah: I really believe that our bodies are the way that the head-heart disconnect is bridged.

Lindsey: There’s a sense of remembering in your body. I grew up Catholic but haven’t been Catholic for years. Recently I went to a Catholic funeral and it all came back – the standing, kneeling, sitting, the songs, the rituals. It was like muscle memory.

Jonah: I want to end with, “Jesus invites us to the greatest ritual of all with our bodies, calling us to remember God’s ultimate provision and reversal,” and lead into communion. Then of course we’ve got the baptism after communion during the 11am service.

Bobby: Lindsey, are you conducting the baptism?

Lindsey: Yes. So we’re doing it right after communion?

Bobby: Yep. The band will play until the communion lines are all done and you’ve walked to the front. Then you’ll take over. After the baptism the band will play the final song.

Jonah: I guess we can’t really talk about the liturgy without the liturgy writer here. When is Justin getting back?

Discussion tapered off. How did the liturgy turn out? Read and/or watch it in yesterday’s Liturgy 101 recap, here.

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