For many Lutherans, the harbinger of summer is a change in their Sabbath schedule. Early-service diehards may go in for an extra half-hour of shut-eye, while the late service flock may rouse early to worship before a summer excursion. Others opt for a Saturday evening service before a neighborhood barbecue so they can sleep later on Sunday.
But these flexible worship times, once reserved for the muggy months, are becoming part of year-round schedules to accommodate demanding work and family routines. A recent Christian Science Monitor article cites a Massachusetts congregation that found, through a survey, the best time for worship was 5 p.m. Saturday. Why? People had nothing else to do then.
The trend toward downtime worship transcends traditions, including moveable feast-days for Roman Catholics and services late on Fridays for Reform Jewish congregations to accommodate long commutes.
"Sunday remains the principal feast day of Christians," says Michael Burk, ELCA director for worship, "because Sunday is the day of Christ's resurrection."
Burk says alternative worship times can be convenient and an important aspect of outreach. "Hopefully it's in addition to, rather than instead of, a Sunday morning opportunity," he says. "The whole church has a stake in believers gathering locally on Sunday around word and sacrament."
For more information on worship practices see www.elca.org/dcm/worship/qa/.
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