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Devotion: A Shared Experience

The following words were spoken prior to the June 24 rehearsal by Sarah Bane, a member of the soprano section.  

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One of the things I like most about our upcoming tour program is that it’s a straightforward Mass.  Wanting to know more about the history of the Mass, and its function within the Lutheran heritage, I did a little research – merely scratching the surface of what there is to know about “Mass.”

According to Wikipedia, Mass comes from the Latin word, Missa, which means dismissal.  Within the church, the idea of dismissal took on deeper meaning to what we know today as “mission,” or being sent out.  As for the Lutheran tradition, Mass has been celebrated since the Reformation.  In the Book of Concord (Article XXIV of the “Augsburg Confession”), Martin Luther writes: “Falsely are our churches accused of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is retained among us, and celebrated with the highest reverence.  We do not abolish the Mass but religiously keep and defend it … we keep the traditional liturgical form … in our churches Mass is celebrated every Sunday and on other holy days, when the sacrament is offered to those who wish for it after they have been examined and absolved.”

My interpretation of the Mass is that it gives us a corporate way to come together to share in a worship experience.  Though it’s corporate, individuals never experience Mass the same way.  Rather, Mass gives us a common thread and a common rhythm – it’s like speaking the language of worship together.  How cool that our hymn festival is a way of taking our audience along the journey of that common experience through the music we will share.  And even cooler yet, innately, a “mass” requires that more than one are to come together!

The sense of coming together brings to mind my favorite Scripture passage, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.  It reads: 9Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. 11Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? 12And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken (NRSV).  This verse is read at weddings a lot, but I think its relational undertones are more far-reaching than just marriage.  I think the verse speaks to why we were created to be in community with one another – created not be islands, but actually made for relationship.  It speaks to why we come together to do this tour in the middle of the summer when we might otherwise be lounging in the sun or tackling a weekend home-improvement project: Because an experience shared is more beautiful when it is shared with others. 

Please pray with me.  The Lord be with you:

“God of abundance and love, we praise you for the opportunity to come together in song over the next week-and-a-half.  We thank you for the people we will encounter and share our message with.  God, we ask for stamina, energy, and focus.  It’s in your son’s name that we pray.  Amen.”