Minister's Corner Archive

April 2012

The Rev. Wendy Pantoja

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 would-be worshipful experience into a performance/concert environment.

Lately I have noticed an uncertainty about whether or not to applaud which results in thunderous applause for some and seemingly half-hearted applause for others. This can bring about an “ouch” moment for the latter.  And when the participation of children occurs in worship, this can result in what some call “showcasing” rather than intergenerational participation. What to do?

I would like to suggest that we be very discerning about the use of applause. We can try refraining from it. If we must, it would be preferable to shake our hands quietly in the air so others can have their reflective moment. Not applauding an adult or child right after their participation will give them a better sense of having helped to make worship instead of having just completed a performance. Towards the end of worship, probably right before our Closing Circle, the worship leader will provide a moment of applause for all who have participated.

I invite you to try this for a while. And, when we are so overwhelmingly moved by a musical piece or by words shared that we cannot contain ourselves, it will be that much more meaningful. 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 that worship element.

En paz y fe,
Rev. Wendypaz

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