In the Rule of Benedict he writes:
Should monastics make a mistake in a psalm, responsory, refrain or reading, they must make satisfaction there before all. If they do not use this occasion to humble themselves, they will be subjected to more severe punishment for failing to correct by humility the wrong committed through negligence.
but recently I have been reflecting on whether I think this is right.
Is the worship of God to be restricted to the able, with others expected to watch and listen, or are all God’s people to be involved? Is it a performance which must be made perfect, or a participation?
Two of our congregations tend more towards the latter, and it was interesting that after a recent, particularly disastrous service (as in things going wrong), a new family with young children said that it encouraged them to come along, as if it were more perfect they would worry that their children would disturb it. They have now become regulars!
What does it say to those who don’t read well if the people at the front all do?
In a more informal society, does the formality and perfection stop some people engaging with God?
Perhaps the key is:
the wrong committed through negligence
if people are doing the best they can surely that is good enough?
I am not suggesting that there is not a place for the well rehearsed, well executed worship, but I am suggesting that there is also a place for something else. What do you think?