Worship During Paige’s Sabbatical

Worship During Paige’s Sabbatical

Rev. Paige wrote the fourth in a series of blogposts regarding Rev. Paige’s upcoming sabbatical happening April 1, 2023 through August 31, 2023.

This week, Colette Gelwicks, co-chair of the Worship Steering Committee, offers a fifth blogpost, below.

In the last 6 months I have spent a lot of time thinking about worship during Rev. Paige’s sabbatical and pottery. You wouldn’t think they are connected but, as it happens when you think about two very different things a lot, you find interesting connections.

Last year, I took a pottery class at Maryland Hall in Annapolis and became completely hooked. I’ve since been handbuilding a lot of stuff — mugs, chalices, bowls, dishes, and I’ve now progressed onto lidded containers. My latest project, pictured to the right, is a box that I’ve attached feet and a tail onto and carved a cat face into that I am hoping to gift my beautiful, cat-loving, almost-8-year-old daughter.

It is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I had never made a box before and was just winging it so the rim on the inside of it is not pretty. In fact, I suspect parts might break off when this box gets bisque fired in a week. Then, when I was driving the box to the studio on Monday, I had to brake suddenly, and the box toppled over. One of its corners got dented and an ear snapped off. Oops. I was able to patch the ear back on and ultimately round the corner but, well, boxes should have pointy corners and this corner is not that. I’m also not super happy with how the cat face came out. The whiskers aren’t smooth — you can see where I accidentally jabbed the tool into the clay. And I can’t even begin to know what to expect with the tail. The box itself was already leatherhard (i.e., fairly dried out) when I put a fresh clay coil (also wobbly and not perfectly smooth) onto it, which means that the tail could simply pop off because it’s drying at a faster rate than the already almost dry box. But, despite all that, it’s clearly a box with a lid. And it’s clearly a cat. And it doesn’t have to be perfect because I’m a new potter, and I know that imperfections lend interest and that my recipient is kind and forgiving.

Our worship services over the next months while Paige is on sabbatical are going to be like my box. We’ve done a lot of leg work to get ready for this time. Our Worship Steering Committee, with Paige and Michael, has been working diligently to identify guest speakers so that we have a meaningful, interesting service planned for every Sunday during Paige’s absence. In addition to services offered by UUCC’s trusted staff, we’re going to have some familiar, loved faces back (like Rev. Kären Rasmussen, Matt Meyer, Dr. Rev. Laura Solomon, and Rev. Jen Raffensperger), hear from new-to-us people and groups we’ve never had offer a service before (like Moms Demand Action), and welcome UUCC groups, members, and friends to the chancel (like the Climate Team, Turning Circle, the Committee on Right Relations, Cynthia Marshall, and Ned Tillman).

In addition to all the folks that support every Sunday in some capacity already (UUCC staff, musicians, the tech team, RE, etc.), each of those services will also be supported by a dedicated Worship Associate. Our two worship associate training sessions in the last few months have helped us build a team of over a dozen trained, eager Worship Associates. They have a 24-page manual to help guide them through the process of assisting guest speakers and groups to create worship services for us and then speak on Sundays to provide some of the parts of service that are most familiar to us. You have likely seen some of these brave, generous people recently as they hone their skills and get used to being on the chancel instead of “in the pews.”

And even with all the preparation and training and careful, loving attention paid to consider all the intricacies and details and pieces that are part of “making worship happen” on Sundays — a crisp finish may not be quite so crisp. Something might take longer than expected during service. There may be mishaps and accidents. We might see and hear things slightly differently than what we are used to (in fact, I hope so!). But in the end, it will clearly be a worship service. Sunday at UUCC will still look like Sunday at UUCC. And it doesn’t have to be perfect because we’re all figuring this out together, and imperfections lend interest, and we know that the audience is kind and forgiving.


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