Match Box Worship

Revd Rosie Bruce undertook her training nearly a decade ago, under the Revd Dr Beren Hartless, and remembers fondly how Beren always challenged the ordinands to ‘think outside the box’ when it came to styles and formats of worship… Little did she realise that thinking inside the box would become more important!

One particular task set by Beren was to see if the ordinands could strip their worship back as much as possible, right to the core of God’s message, and see if everything they needed for a service could fit into an imaginary match box. It wasn’t long before an evening service was devised that could fit into a large matchbox – candle, image for focus, reading and a prayer! Whilst the point of this was to show that you didn’t need bells and whistles to hear God’s words, Rosie didn’t know how vital it would become to her ministry many years later.

Rosie picks up the story,

“When lockdown first happened, we very quickly pivoted our services online, but we were worried as many of our congregation were elderly and had little or no access to the internet, let alone a laptop or smartphone.

“To make sure we could meet these people’s needs, the ministry team in the Damascus Parish decided to print the service sheet and post/deliver them to those in need. This started me thinking about my training as an OLM and the exercise that Beren had given. I didn’t want people to feel that they had been abandoned or forgotten about, so I thought the gift of ‘worship in a box’ would reassure people that they were not alone.

“The project was rolled out to half a dozen people in the village of Drayton, trialling the offering and seeing what people really needed. It soon become apparent that people weren’t just using these gifts on a Sunday, they often returned to them during the week, when they needed to carve out some time to pray or needed to feel connected to their community.

“We are hoping to keep this practice going long after the lifting of restrictions as we know many people may be nervous about coming back to in-person services, or may have mobility issues or may need to self-isolate.

“Although the content of the boxes change, generally people will receive the verse of a hymn, a psalm, a picture of the church or local area, small objects to help focus their prayer thoughts, and prayer cards too. It is always worth checking in and talking to people about the contents of the boxes.”

Now that Rosie’s incumbent, Helen Kendrick, is back after her sabbatical, Rosie’s hope is that the project will grow and be mirrored by other parishes, with the format being altered in line with the recipient’s needs, for example, for those in care homes. The contents can be continually refreshed through the letterbox, in keeping with the changes in the liturgical year, festivals and seasons.

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