Sitting in the Congregation

I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.
                        I will praise you among your assembled people. – Psalm 22:22(NLT)

My congregation worships with a few nearby congregations for Thanksgiving, Ash Wednesday, and Maundy Thursday.  We take turns hosting.  As a solo pastor, I really enjoy these opportunities to work with my peers.  As a pastor without a traditional worship space, I also enjoy worshipping in a traditional sanctuary.

The practice of our host for our Thanksgiving service two weeks ago is to have the clergy sit on the chancel.  There were four of us, so we arranged chairs on the side behind the pulpit.  From where my chair was, I could see about three people in the congregation.

It made me a little sad.

I felt out of touch and not really a part of the worship service.  I realized how much I like sitting in the congregation during worship. I have theological reasons for wanting to sit in the congregation but my heart reasons are about belonging.

When I sit in the congregation, I can sit with my son.  Something I’ll only be able to do for another year and half until he goes to college. Even though I still can’t see anyone when I’m sitting in the front row, I feel like I’m a part of the congregation, too.

But last week I was struck with another profound reason why I need to sit in the congregation.  In our collaborative services, three other pastors are helping to lead.  This is an opportunity for me to just be a worshipper rather than the worship leader. Stuck in the corner, looking at someone’s back, I didn’t feel a part of what was happening.

Even on Sunday, when I sit in the congregation, I allow the liturgist to lead me – literally, because they are standing before me.  I’m prayed over.  I receive the choral anthem and the offertory in all its fullness.  I’m part of the chorus of the congregation during hymns.

It’s easy for me to forget – as the pastor – that I am also a worshipper.  I know our worship is for God, but we are also all recipients of the worship offerings of others.  God doesn’t share being the subject of our worship, but I do believe God is generous and wants us to share in the worship being given.

I know it’s not for everyone, but I’m thankful to sit in the congregation.  It is a gift in many ways for this pastor.

Our worship is for God, but we are also all recipients of the worship offerings of others. God doesn’t share being the subject of our worship, but I do believe God is generous and wants us to share in the worship being given. Click To Tweet
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