Yesterday I led worship for our community from the keyboard, with my daughter singing, good friend and stunning acoustic guitarist Dave Warne playing, and groovemaster Chris MacDonald on the cajon.
It was a meditative set, built around extended readings of 3 Psalms, Psalm 89, Psalm 40 and Psalm 119:1-24, from The Message. We began with Psalm 89. Then we sang 2 songs, read a Psalm over instrumental music, sang two songs, read a Psalm over instrumental music, and concluded with a chorus from the previous set.
The joy of leading it was the way that readings can allow free space for instrumental support behind the words and phrases, giving breath to both the words and the music.
It’s a model I think I will choose more frequently in contemporary worship sets at conferences and events.
As I spoke to folks in our community afterward, there were many who responded strongly to the musical part of the time, and many who responded strongly to the spoken word.
While it is not a full integration of the common lectionary, it is a way to integrate Psalms and extended passages into the standard contemporary set.