This morning, Heidi and I went to a service at Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge. Part of the Church of England, Holy Trinity dates back some 800 years and is beautiful with its high, arched ceilings; white stone walls; and sunlight streaming in through stained glass. Ironically, in this morning's service, the ancient architecture was juxtaposed with two giant Powerpoint screens at the front of the sanctuary and guitars for worship.
I was struck by the contrast between this service and the one we went to mid-week at King's College Chapel. At King's College, the service was highly liturgical; the role of the congregant was simply to listen, to sit and stand and kneel at the appropriate times. This morning though, we participated in the singing and were addressed more informally by the pastor. It makes me wonder what it must have felt like during the Reformation, to be offered for the first time the ability to participate, to have a voice in seeking God.
On one hand, there is something about the elaborate formality of the King's College service that is stirring, the sound of the perfectly harmonized choir ringing above you, seeming to swell and rise to the vaulted ceilings, speaks of awe and wonder, of the majesty of a God before whom we must be still and speechless. And yet, this morning's service, with voices joined in unison, the man beside me singing off key, a baby crying a few pews over, speaks of a God who asks not for perfect order, but for our response, our voices.