by Sue Coller, Pastor FPC Lincoln
Worship should be open and accessible to all people--no matter what their abilities or language. You may notice that we always print the entire Lord's Prayer--even though most of us can rattle it off without thinking.
Why? Because there may be one person in worship that day who didn't grow up in a church, or whose first language isn't English, or who comes from a tradition that says "trespasses" or "sins" instead of "debts." Printing the entire prayer eliminates one barrier to someone fully participating in worship.
In our continuing efforts to make worship accessible to all, we're making an addition to our worship bulletins--pictures for each part of worship. Southern Heights Presbyterian Church recently added icons to their worship bulletins as a way of making worship more accessible to those with autism, pre-readers. new worshipers not familiar with the order of service, English language learners, and those with dementia or early signs of Alzheimer's.
They learned that these icons, or visual cues, accessed a different portion of the brain that helped people connect with what was going on around them in a way that words didn't. Symbols have long been a part of worship. They connect us with something beyond ourselves.
The symbol of water connects us to our baptism. The symbol of bread and cup connects us to Christ's sacrifice and each other. The symbol of the cross connects us to God's forgiveness, grace, and a call to serve. The symbol of candles connects us to God's presences, and our calling to be light to the world.
Symbols are rich and deep in meaning, and call us to a deeper connection with God, with the community of Christ, and with the world. It is our hope that the addition of these symbols, these icons, these visual cues, will aid the participation of all who gather for worship, and in doing so, deepen our connection with God and each other.