by Jeff Greunke, Director of Worship Arts
Have you ever thought about what it takes to bring about an awesome worship experience each weekend at St. Luke-Ann Arbor? Do you know how many people give of themselves so that every person who attends church on Sunday, whether for a traditional or a contemporary style service, has a great moment to encounter God and share our stories with one another? In the next several articles, I will be highlighting several ministry areas in which people have the opportunity to delight in serving you with their time and gifts.
Let’s start with a very brief history and definition for you. In the Old Testament, the tribe of Levi, a son of Jacob, was called to minister to the Lord and to the people of Israel. Aaron, a descendant of Levi, was the first high priest. I see everyone who gives of themselves to the work of the people as being part of this heritage and lineage of serving the Lord and each other.
Next, the word liturgy is said to be derived from the Greek word, leitourgia (λειτουργία), which can be translated “the work of the people.” Below is a part of a blog from Maggi Dawn who is currently based at the Yale School of Divinity.
I mentioned earlier that there is a current trend to define liturgy as “the work of the people”. I think this little phrase has gone viral partly because even among traditions that have never embraced the idea of “liturgy”, the rediscovery of ancient liturgy by the alternative, emerging and non-liturgical traditions has made everyone want to buy into the idea, and in addition, to stress that worship isn’t something put on by the clergy, the worship band or the local elders while everyone else looks on. For this much, who can complain? It’s brilliant if people want to get knee-deep in the creative, theatrical, devotional, theological treasure chest of liturgy, and it’s absolutely true that liturgy/worship should be participatory, not observatory.
The Greek word “leitourgia” derives from two root words – “laos,” the people, and “ergas,” a work. But the popular definition is highly misleading. Leitourgia was never actually used to mean “the work of the people”. It was, rather, a word that described acts of public service, usually initiated by a private benefactor. So, for instance, some wealthy person might build a temple or a town hall, foot the bill, but the work itself was for the community. Likewise, any public work done in service to the gods, but that would also benefit the community, would qualify as leitourgia. It’s work. And it’s about people. But it’s not the people’s work, it’s work that is for the people, and transformative of the wider world.
So liturgy might legitimately be said to be work for God, that transforms our world, and benefits people. But liturgy isn’t mine or yours. In short, it’s not about me.
Having the opportunity to serve one another each week is a great joy and responsibility that many people have taken up as part of their “work of (and for) the people.” The great thing is even YOU have the opportunity to serve in the same way in various areas!
Many Areas of Service
The list of areas in which people help so you can delight in taking a Next Step is quite extensive: Welcome Center / Front desk, Chancel workers, Communion assistants, Elders, AVL / tech, Worship team, Ushers, Nursery, Teachers, Counters, Volunteers for restocking Sanctuary supplies, Facilities, Office support.
The task of the chancel worker is one that is mostly behind the scenes and I would say goes fairly unnoticed. These dedicated women and men are responsible for the weekly set up, reset, and clean up of the communion ware and supplies. St. Luke has made a conscious decision to offer the Lord’s Supper at every weekend service and certain special services, therefore this serving opportunity is available every time we commune. However, it does not take a large amount of time or commitment to do this task.
Our previous Chancel Coordinator, Deborah Glenn, has chosen to step down after seven years of faithful service. Please join me in thanking her for her dedication. One of our current team members, Sherrill Derksen, has decided to step up into that position and continue the leadership for the group. Please welcome her as she jumps on board!
jg: Can you share a part of your story about why you choose to do what you do?
Cynthia Bender: “For me, setting up Communion is a precious intimate time with Jesus. Meditating and praying on the enormity of His loving sacrifice that we might be given a new everlasting Covenant with our Father.”
Patti McCarty: “I appreciate that St. Luke as a congregation believes that Communion is an important part of worship. Therefore we offer Communion every Sunday. I set up Communion one Saturday a month for the Sunday service. (It takes less than an hour.) I enjoy the quiet time with God in the sacristy of St. Luke. I pray for the people who will be taking Communion on Sunday morning while I prepare the host boxes, chalices and individual cup trays. I don’t know what the needs are for each person, but I pray that they will be blessed, healed and strengthened through the bread and wine. It is a blessing to me to serve St. Luke and the body of Christ in this way.”
Peggy Glahn: “I responded to a call for new people to do chancel duty many years ago. I was active in a local sailing club where I was happy to contribute my time to help maintain the property and help with instruction. I realized that St. Luke was more important to me than any club could be, yet I wasn’t contributing my time to serve within St. Luke. When the opportunity to work behind the scenes to prepare communion arose, I decided it was a good way for me to begin serving the congregation.
When I started there was something like 30 minutes between services to cleanup from the previous service and reset for the next. My partner at the time struggled with physical problems and often couldn’t make it to church, leaving me to do the clean up and reset on my own. It was really stressful, but I stuck with it. The early stress aside, serving on the chancel team has always been a joy and never a burden. I love to set a beautiful and orderly table for the spiritual feeding of my St. Luke family. It is an easy, joyful way to serve, making it a perfect first step for anyone who desires to start engaging more deeply in congregational life.”
Karen Baker: “Serving on Chancel Duty is like preparing a meal for my family. St. Luke is my church family and we share a weekly meal of communion that needs to be prepared. Similar to preparing and cleaning up from a meal for my family, this is my way of showing I care. Getting everything ready or cleaning from the previous service is actually a rather simple way to serve and show you care. Serving on Chancel duty is a lot easier than preparing a meal for my family. When I prepare a meal I enjoy it when my family is in the kitchen helping or hanging out talking. Similarly, I like serving on chancel as a team working alongside others. Right now we could use more people to join our Chancel Team to help prepare and clean up our communion meal.”
Deborah Glenn: “I am so grateful to be able to serve our church in preparing communion for our worship services. It has been a privilege to serve in this way. It was a responsibility that I took seriously but it was a joy as well knowing that I played a part in worship and fellowship with the wonderful people in our congregation as we serve and follow Jesus.”
Sherrill Derksen: “I serve on this team because it is easy to do, only 1 hour per month, and I can involve my whole family. When my boys were little, I would bring them with me to help – they loved to use the special tool we have to fill the wine cups! My husband has helped over the years too. It is also nice to be in the sanctuary alone sometimes – often I will pray after I have everything set up – it is just God and me there.”
As you can see, these dedicated people who serve the church each week love what this task entails. You too can have the opportunity to serve alongside these people now that we are looking to build up the teams and begin pairing up people to grow and share in this ministry. I would invite anyone interested in seeing what goes on behind the scenes to talk to one of these team members while they are resetting and/or cleaning up. Go backstage and visit the sacristy where all this work is done and meet some new people!
If you would like to see what it is like to join the team, please contact me, Jeff Greunke (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will connect you with the group. We ask for only 1-2 year commitments to serving as it is typically an hour (or less) a month and, don’t worry, you will be teamed up with someone with experience. Please prayerfully consider if you are being called into this ministry area.
Stay tuned as I plan to bring you highlights from the many other groups of “weekend warriors” who serve God and His church each Sunday.