Widely touted as "Echoes inaugural worship gathering!", tomorrow night's service is actually a sham. Oh, it IS a gathering for worship, that's very true. The sham is the "inaugural" part. True confession: this isn't really our first time to gather to worship.
The first official event that Echoes ever did was last year, on Sunday, July 14th. I got a banner made, put together a little cardboard display board, picked up some tootsie rolls, and met another Echo-ite at the Farmer's Market area in order to host a table at the Bellingham Pride Parade. My companion had suggested glitter tattoos as a way to bring people to our table, and seriously, it was genius. Let's face it, most of us look for freebies at events like these. We scan the table, see if there is anything good, then move on. Our tattoos became a "must-stop" for those riding the table circuit. Each tattoo took several minutes and required us to actually place our hands on strangers, and to get into their personal space (most chose the tattoo to go on their cheek; don't go all gutter here...).
We had opportunities for small conversations, for getting to know a person a tiny bit, and to offer a free gift that made someone feel good.
And this was worship. Some people asked about God while we leaned into their face to wipe off the wayward glitter flecks, but most didn't. Each person, though, was honored as an image of God, each person was welcomed to the table, each person was given our attention.
No hymns, no formal liturgy, no offering plate, no Lord's prayer. But this was undoubtedly worship.
Tomorrow night we start a new chapter by offering a monthly worship gathering to Bellingham. This might be the place that many Bellinghamsters connect to us, but I hope it's not the only avenue for involvement. It if were, then people would be missing out on the chance to worship at Theology Pub, around a dining table, with gloves and rakes at a work party in affiliation with local non-profits, blessing animals, and honoring the goodness of both Solstice and Advent. I don't think God waits for us to attend an official worship service in order to check off a "went to church this week" box. Instead, I think God smiles at the infinite opportunities we have to worship in lesser recognized ways.
Please don't think tomorrow night is the pinnacle or the goal of what we're doing with Echoes. It's not. I'm greatly looking forward to it and I think it's going to be awesome, and yet it's not the be-all, end-all of who we are or what we do. How do I know? All you had to do was see the smiles of our Pride booth visitors, or look at the bags of trash that we hauled up from Locust Beach, or consider the deep connection that was made over a Brene Brown TED talk and a potluck. Worship is all around us. Tomorrow night it'll be front and center. I can't wait, and I also can't wait for more worship opportunities to emerge from this creative community.