Word of the Week

The Mood

I can usually tell how worship is going to go from the first couple of minutes I go downstairs and observe what is happening in the foyer each Sunday morning.

It is what I qualify as the mood.

It is that intangible thing in the air that tells me where people are in their presence at church on a particular morning: whether or not they hurriedly came, whether or not they have heavy burdens on their shoulders, whether or not they got into a fight with someone in the kitchen before the service started, or whether or not they couldn't think of anything better to do with their Sunday morning than to be at church.

And, though, I can try to do everything I can to alter the mood when the worship service begins, being extra energetic, whispering a quiet prayer for help, etc.  the mood marches to a beat of its own drum.  

If the mood is celebratory and lighthearted, jokes that I don't think are funny make everyone roll on the floor with laughter.

If the mood is sad, I look out on the congregation and see glazed over eyes no matter what anyone says.

If the mood is fueled by the distraction of snow, too much to eat over the weekend or even latecomers walking in, I almost rather close down shop and say "let's try again next week" because it feels like the hard work of those who have prepared for worship is wasted.

If the mood is exciting, I wish there was a way to capture it in a bottle and save it for Sunday of a holiday weekend or one when the weather is too hot or cold.

"Mood" is something I never learned about in seminary, but am coming to realize that it is singlehandedly the one aspect that controls how Sunday mornings go. I wish I could understand it. I wish I had superpowers to change it (especially mid-way through the sermon some weeks). I wish I could control it.

But, alas, "mood" has a mind of its own. It just is what it is.

Maybe this is why the writer of Ecclesiastes writes: "When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future" (7:14).

Yet, with this being said, I want to do everything I can as a worship leader and as a pastor to make everyone's experience of worship meaningful each week.

For this reason, I look forward to days when baptisms are performed (you can't help but smile during one of these).

I look forward to Easter every year-- it is a joyous day and the larger crowds of church goers always help things too!

I look forward to our congregation growing spiritually and numerically so that distractions of who is there and who isn't don't seem to cause such shifts in mood.

In the meantime, I'll keep looking for a way to bottle the mood of those high and holy days and keep my head up on those days when I'm ready to hit the "do-over button" by 11:30.

Who said being church wasn't an adventure?