Over the last few months, there has been some coverage in The Inquirer of the idea that we Unitarians do not do ‘joy’ in our worship.
Almost inevitably, this has lead to backlash from others who like our worship just the way it is.
I think that misses the point.
We do some kinds of worship well:
- traditional non-conformist worship with heterodox Christian theology
- sermon-based worship
- alternative and inclusive communion services
- Taizé worship
- Iona community-inspired worship
- contemplative and silence-focused worship
We’re distinctly lacking in exuberant worship. Or, more accurately, I almost never get to experience exuberant worship in a Unitarian setting. Something that’s loud and engaging rather than quiet and reflective. More like dancing round a fire to the sound of drums, than lighting a candle in silence and solitude.
But, I don’t think this needs to be ‘either/or’. I want loud to be available as well as quiet, not instead of. And for that matter, I happy with contemporary as well as traditional.
If nothing changes then everything stays the same. And if we only satisfy the people that are already here, we’ll only have the people that are already here.
But change doesn’t mean doing something else, it can mean doing more things in addition to the things we’ve always done.
Unitarianism is not just a refuge from the ‘happy clappys’ for former Anglicans. It’s also a vibrant living faith for people who aren’t welcome in any other box. And joining a Unitarian community shouldn’t mean that you have to swear allegiance to Victorian hymns, 20 minute sermons and a religious life of quiet contemplation. We can do more than this if we want to.
If you’re planning a lively, loud worship where the congregation are participants rather than audience, let me know. It’s what I’m looking for.