Monday, May 11, 2009

Proper Identification Required

Several weeks ago, prior to wedding season, when I was blogging regularly, I clipped an article from the Washington Post. The article appeared on the front page of the March 16, 2009, Metro section and is titled, "Here, Even Icons Needs IDs." Writer Michael Ruane explains how many people in Washington take for granted the familiarity of the many monuments and tourist attractions in our city. We believe that everyone knows that the tall cement tower extending high in the air is the Washington Monument. However, Ruane interviews tourists from Belgium who, when asked about the Monument, said, "We think it is the Ellipse."

Apparently, the Park Service is now in the process of fully identifying each monument in Washington, taking nothing for granted. In the meantime, I keep thinking about everything we take for granted at the church. There are so many places in our buildings that are not properly marked. And, there are so many parts of our liturgies that are not fully explained.

Right now, we are assuming that everyone knows where the handicap entrance is at Mount Vernon Place; there is no door to properly mark it. We assume that visiting families can find the nursery even though the sign on the temporary nursery door says "library." These things will be changed as soon as phase two of our building is completed, but I wonder how much confusion we have caused so far.

Once a person is on the inside, we do different things. We stand at some times, sit at other times, and offer the invitation to kneel at other times. We pray prayers, listen to scripture readings, hear a sermon, sing songs, pass an offering plate, exchange signs of peace and reconciliation with one another, and hear a closing benediction. It all (well, most of it) makes sense to me. But, I wonder how confusing it is to others.

We are trying to do a better job of explaining to our gathered congregation why we do what we do instead of taking it for granted. I am always trying to think of ways to make the church more user friendly, especially to those on the outside.

What about you? What makes sense in terms of what we do as a gathered community on Sunday mornings? What could use more explanation?

1 comment:

kel said...

I used to hate the "passing of the peace" time because I never knew what to say. I felt like I should say, "Um, thanks, you too!" but that just didn't seem right. I would also try to sneak out a door where no one was standing, because if they said something to me, I didn't know what I was supposed to say back. That isn't a problem at MVP because nobody actually leaves :) We hang out for coffee and food, and I don't have to worry about any formal greetings on the way out the door.