The Rev. Wendy Pantoja
Lately, I have been getting requests from congregants about how to keep applause from interrupting these special worshipful moments. And so, I begin this month’s column with something I wrote last year.
“To applaud or not to applaud? That is the question with which congregations often wrestle on Sunday morning. We are not talking here about the rhythmic clapping with which we sometimes accompany our hymn singing. This is usually enjoyable and helps us make music. What is meant by applause here is the clapping that sometimes follows after something is said or done in worship.
There are many reasons for wanting to applaud. We want to show appreciation for a job well done or for the effort made. Sometimes we are so moved that it is hard to contain ourselves.
Those who would prefer to do without the applause have good reasons, too. They prefer a peaceful moment of reflection on the music or words just shared. Routine applause after a musical piece or reading turns the worshipful experience into a performance/concert environment.”
So began my column for the April 2012 newsletter. There is no doubt we value the music that enriches our worship services. We have been gifted with talented musicians from our own congregation as well as outside our congregation. The music they do is very thoughtfully chosen to enhance the theme of any given worship service and deepen our spiritual experience.
As well intended as applause may be to show appreciation for these gifts, it does interrupt the worshipful moment, sometimes jarring the worshipper out of that peaceful reflection. It can be jarring as well to those creating the music for in their singing or in their playing an instrument they too are worshipping. Applause takes what they do out of the realm of worship and relegates it to a performance.
We can try refraining from it altogether. If we must, why not try shaking our hands quietly in the air so others can have their reflective moment. Then at the end of the service during our Moment of Gratitude, we can give them thunderous applause. The applause will not be for a “performance” but will be an outward expression of the deep feeling of gratitude and/or joy invoked in us by the content of a richly enhanced worship experience.
En paz y fe,
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