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Posted by on Apr 21, 2016 | 1 comment

[.mp3] to Worship


Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone

It is common in many church services to begin with a CALL TO WORSHIP.  It’s an ancient thing to do and we Christians do it for a variety of reasons: 1) historical (we learned it from our Jewish brothers and sisters – shema); 2) theological (it reminds us that it is God who calls us to worship); 3) scriptural (calls to worship are often adapted from psalms and other scripture passages); and 4) practical (a call to worship signals the start of a service and focuses a congregation’s attention).

Excuse me for saying this, but often a call to worship is boring…unimaginative…stale.  It is a time in many of our worship services where we merely clear our collective throats and proceed in call and response fashion through a series of canned phrases.  When was the last time you were moved and inspired by a call to worship?  When was the last time a call to worship felt…well…like worship?

In the Spring of 2016 I am preaching a sermon series about the birds of the Bible.  In the process of creating worship around this sermon series something occurred to me:  churches have a call to worship…birds have bird calls…so couldn’t we have a [bird] call to worship?

And so, every Sunday during this sermon series our call to worship has been about 45 seconds of the call/song/sound of the particular bird I am preaching about that morning.  It’s easy to do:

  1. I find an .mp3 of the bird I need (there are bazillions free on the interweb)
  2. I download it to my phone
  3. On Sunday morning I either plug it into our church’s sound system or connect it to my bluetooth speaker
  4. When it is time for the call to worship, I introduce the bird, invite the congregation to close their eyes, and then push play
  5. When the call is done we move on with the next element of worship

After doing this for a number of weeks, it occurred to me that there are many other times an auditory call to worship would work well.  Here are some ideas:

  1. If you are preaching from a passage that mentions an instrument or bell (e.g. psalm 150, 1 Cor. 13) play the sound of instruments or bells
  2. What about the sound or a crackling fire or blowing wind on Pentecost
  3. How about a trumpet call on Ash Wednesday (see Joel 2)
  4. Maybe the sound of rushing water on Baptism of Jesus Sunday
  5. Roaring crowds on Palm Sunday?
  6. Crying baby on Christmas Eve?

No need to make it every Sunday. No need to make it gimmicky.  An occasional auditory call to worship just might bring new life and new ears to this element of worship.  It also might be fun!


© Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen, 2016

Kevin Goldenbogen is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ serving an amazing congregation in the foothills of the Green Mountains of Vermont. He skis, climbs, runs, bakes bread, rides a red Vespa, and tries every day to follow Jesus. He is married to the perfect woman and has two boys who he loves beyond words.

1 Comment

  1. This is great!

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