Subway Prophet

…and the words of the prophets were written on the subway walls…

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Announcements: A terrible way to die, or wonderful way to live?

Within a worship service very few people comment that their favorite part were the announcements. In fact, I would wager that most get forgotten. In every church I have worked with, this problem Where do they fit it? How do they function? What is their purpose?

  • Some bring them to the forefront of the service, using the prelude to keep the worship separate.
  • Some bring them into the middle of the service between the hymn and the prayer concerns.
  • Others put them at the very end in the hopes that people will remember them better as they get in their cars.
  • Most churches do a combination. The normal announcements go at the end, while the important ones get mentioned by the pastor in the middle of the service, or if the announcement is lucky, it gets the place of honor before the sermon when everyone is listening.

Behind all of these options is an underlying discomfort with these seemingly secular necessities and the spiritual worship. With people being over-programmed and churches feeling the need to promote their programs in the midst of the busyness, it is no wonder we perform these tasks with a certain reticence.

This semester I am taking a worship history course and our first section is about the worship in the Jerusalem church. So, imgaine my surprise when I read in the diary of Egeria (a 4th century nun who travelled in the Holy Land) this description:

Then for the dismissal, the archdeacon makes this announcement: “At one o’clock today, let us all be ready at the Lazarium.” (29:3)

A forth century announcement?! I put a very mark next to this text. I guess that the need for announcements in worship is as old as the church itself. At the end of the day, announcements are not merely a means to an end, but are in fact instructions and opportunities for Christian life. In the Jerusalem church, these announcements were imperative because throughout the day, week, and year, the location of worship changed rotating around to the various holy sites in the city. Without announcements, the community would not know where to go.

What would it look like if we as a church took announcements seriously? What if we saw them not just as a necessary evil, but as an invitation into the life of the church and an opportunity for a deeper connection with God? What would this look like? Would we pray for the Spirit’s presence in the announcements? Would be take time for people in the congregation to make some of their own?

I certainly do not have all of the answers, but thanks to Egeria I can no longer just dismiss them. What do you think?