"I'm visiting for the first time. What can I expect?"
You walk into the church from Washington Street after a hearty Sunday
brunch. The first thing you notice is an odd and wonderful juxtaposition:
everything about the building you are in says “organized,” “staid,”
“well-behaved,” “frilly,” and yet the unmistakable rhythm of a drum set and the
thrum of an upright bass, speak of something wilder, more uncontainable and
mysterious. As you follow the sounds, you meet a smiling usher who hands you a
worship bulletin and guides you into the Guild room.
Several things strike you at once. The guild room emulates
the home of a beloved grandparent, with comfy stuffed couches and chairs, dark
wood trim, white walls, pictures of other beloved "family" members on the walls, with a fireplace and reading nook at one end - but the space has been subverted.
The rectangular, formal space is set up in the round, and you walk in on a
level with the band and the worship leaders—all of whom, incidentally, are dressed
pretty much as you are. The space is dim, lit almost as much by the many
candles as by the ornate chandeliers overhead.
You sit down at a card table, someone offers you coffee, and
worship begins. The service is structured and yet informal. As the group
progresses through ancient rhythms of prayer, teaching, and song, people move
about the room at will, getting up when moved to light a candle, or to refill
their coffee, tea, or hot coco.
The service is participatory: you are invited to call your
prayers out during prayer time, to talk back during the sermon (which more
readily resembles an interview), and to celebrate an Agape Feast together. The
old stories are made new through intimate, eclectic, full-body worship. The
music is a combination of jazzed-up church music and straight jazz
reinterpreted by its "churchy" context. After the service, the worshipers gather
for conversations with the musicians and the pastor or, for visitors, a tour of
the church. You head out relaxed, challenged, Spirit-filled, ready.
Sound like your Sunday cup of 'jo? Then come, let the
Wildvine musicians, Pastor Emilia and the Holy Spirit be your guides as you seek to
freshen a long-held faith or go deeper with a new one.
Upcoming Event: Join us for Jazz Sanctuary on January 19th at 1pm! In a prescient book written in the late 70's entitled, "The Culture of Narcissism," cultural historian Christopher Lasch utilized psychoanalytic clinical theory about narcissistic disorders to opine about the drift of the individualism of western societies toward self-centered, materialistic ways of being in the world that threatened a sense of community. Prescient indeed!!
Decades of valuing the "appearance" of the external over the quality of the internal have brought crises of integrity and also doubtless contributed to generalized anxiety. Parker Palmer's book, "A Hidden Wholeness" speaks to this division between our inner lives and outer behavior and proposes "circles of trust" in which we can again prize our inner wholeness in the company of others who will support us in this endeavor.
At Jazz Sanctuarty - First Church/ThirdSunday we want to start a new year with "The Light Within and Without - The Jazz of Wholeness," because we can't think of a more important spiritual and ethical endeavor for these times!
Our Conversational Time will focus on Palmer's ideas (as will the January iteration of First Church's Page Turners Book Club at White Mountain Coffee on Monday, January 27 at 2:00 PM), and our music will be driven by the same themes of inner light and secret wholeness during what in the Christian world is the time of light amidst darkness - Epiphany. Saxophonist Joey Placenti will join Vocalist and Pastor Emilia Halstead and the WildVine Jazz Sanctuary House Band of Ben Greene (subbing on bass for Jock Irvine who is away), Ed Raczka on drums, and Tim Wildman on keyboard.
As always, admission is free to Jazz Sanctuary and you are welcome "wherever you are on Life's Journey!" Our gatherings aim to create a genuine sense of community or as Parker Palmer might say, a "Circle of Trust" - come and reveal your own inner light, your own hidden wholeness!
Full Length Audio Recordings of Worship Services
First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ 177 North Main Street | Concord, NH | 03301 603.225.5491