Last Sunday was the Feast of Pentecost, the Christian festival celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus at the time of his ascension. I was privileged to be part of a circle of co-creators who over several months planned an evening candlelit experiential worship service at the Community Church of the Monterey Peninsula.
The thoughtful placement and creation of various prayer stations are central to the Mishkhah philosophy. Extreme beauty is created using imagery, icons, and inspiration for the senses in combination with the offering of symbols and tactile elements of nature.
These sacred components are prayerfully and carefully arranged to create visual prayer tableaus to invite the seeker and pilgrim, access to a personal portal to the Divine. Music, and the integration of bells, and wind chimes deepen the experience.
Our co-created service included prayer, readings from Scripture and Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th century mystic. The community was invited to make a pilgrimage in silence throughout the sanctuary to experience the unique invitation of each prayer station. The focus for this particular service was Creation. The prayer stations represented earth, air, fire, water, and the Spirit.
One by one, in silence the people reverently approached each prayer station… to light candles for special intentions, to receive Communion, to choose a stone from a basket, or dip their hands into a bowl of water then retrieve a sprig of fresh rosemary and inhale the fragrance.
Mystery was present in the evening’s celebration. The service was permeated with the ineffable sacred Presence.
There was also wonderment in the way the service came together throughout the planning… effortlessly, as it were. Each person contributing to the whole, but without regimented adherence to a fixed design other than the intended focus on Creation. The co-creative process, the melding of everyone’s individual contributions, the sensitivity to the choice of music…. all the various strands came together into one exquisite Spirit-guided sacred tapestry of worship.
This is what is possible when worship is led by the Spirit rather than strictly formed from construct of rote rules and prescriptions. What we experienced in community last Sunday evening felt like a little taste of the first century church…. the pre-church, when people came together to experience the Way, the Mystery, the Presence.
Worship is in need of a Renaissance… a return and rebirth of the ancient spiritual practices that engaged the senses and evoked personal spiritual response in the midst of community. It is time for a Renaissance of the Spirit where we become pilgrims again… in search of wonder and awe and open to amazement.
Perhaps we are being called to revisit the past to inform the present. Worship is inviting us to use our sacred imaginations to reawaken our senses and our spirits. Consider the endless possibilities for community prayer, celebration, and reflection…. for authentic Holy Communion with one another as we seek the Divine within ourselves and one another. Amen.