I was struck by a comment I read recently about being encouraged to acknowledge that underpinning efficiency is a lot of love.
A really well planned and executed event means that the participants end up just having a really good time. When things run well no one really notices how things are running – they can just enjoy the occasion. The efficient planning and running means a huge amount of hard work for someone behind the scenes to allow their friends and family to have a lovely day.
All too often people who are organised and efficient can be criticised for being a variety of negative things – bossy, controlling, nit picking, to name but a few. Efficiency is seen as the death of spontaneity. Some spontaneous events can of course be wonderful – but all too often spontaneity can lead to running out of fuel, not having sun cream on the hottest day of the year, finding the theatre/cinema closed and so on and so on.
Anglicans are often criticised for not being spontaneous in worship – for being tied to a set liturgy that does not allow for the workings of the Holy Spirit. Planning good liturgy is in fact quite a gift – you have to take into account emotional flow, hymn choices, hymn lengths and wording, how long people stand or sit for, how music and words are balanced, the season of the church’s year, different voices and changes of pace. Good liturgy is like a good party – you can lose yourself in it and not feel the workings of it behind the scenes – it has a flow which carries you through.
The key is being open to the unexpected – to be able to respond to important events whether nationally, locally or in the life of the congregation and to be able to discern when the Holy Spirit is trying to speak and what God is saying.
Good worship should be well planned and organised – it shows love for people and love for God. But we should never allow it to become so polished that we cannot admit human weakness or indeed God’s power and might.