Our church had a "Lessons & Carols" service this past Sunday, and something about it has irked me ever since. It took me a couple days to realize what bothered me.
It was a well-attended service. There were extra chairs added to our gym-turned-sanctuary (while construction is under way in the actual sanctuary), and with only one service instead of two it was definitely packed even with regulars. There were also lots of guests.
The music and readings were beautiful and meaningful.
But my complaint (?) was that there was no congregational response. There was one line of response after the lighting of the Advent wreath candles, but we didn't even sing "Emmanuel" as response as we have all of this Advent (and Advents past, if memory serves).
The congregation sang no carols. We did no responsive reading. There was no communion. (I go to 8:30 service and we have communion every week.) There wasn't even a formal prayer. (I do understand music can be a form of prayer though.)
Basically it was a performance in the strictest sense of the word. We didn't even stand up the entire service.
So I've felt a little off this week. I didn't have a communal worship experience. And I guess it shows me that I've come to rely on that grounding, especially in times like these. I haven't said anything to the people who plan worship, but hopefully someone else will and they'll realize that next year's service like this needs more participation. Last year's "Lessons & Carols" did include congregational responses, prayers, etc.
I'll be glad to get back to regularly scheduled programming in the new year.