It might be helpful to explain what makes Mysterium different from other worship services. One obvious difference is the time – 8 PM on a Friday evening is an unusual time for a worship service. The first thing a person will notice when they enter the church on a Mysterium evening is the sanctuary, dimly lit by candles, and the ambient music playing quietly in the background. To encourage meditation and prayer, we try to create a space where people will feel comfortable and quiet. When the formal gathering begins, a bell is rung followed by silence — this is a pattern that is repeated throughout the worship experience.
Many songs are sung at a Mysterium gathering. Most are short, meditative songs that are repeated a number of times, much like the music of the Taizé or Iona communities in Europe. The songs are led by simple instrumentation – piano, guitar and hand percussion, or even without accompaniment.
Another important aspect of Mysterium is the use of visual elements. Images and quotes relating to the month’s theme are projected onto screens throughout much of the service, and a prayer wall made of cindercrete blocks filled with flickering candles is placed near the altar.
Scripture readings are spoken from various areas in the worship space, and the sermon ends with a question which people may choose to discuss with those around them.
Each Mysterium gathering includes a less formal celebration of the Lord’s Supper. People come to the table to receive bread broken from a loaf, and wine poured into their cup from a chalice. A beautiful set of ceramic pouring chalices and flagons were made especially for Mysterium by Gail Carlson, a Saskatchewan artist.
Mysterium ends with a time of prayer. While the prayers are being offered, incense may be burned. Light shining through the rising smoke visually reminds us that our prayers rise up to God.
Throughout the worship experience people are able to move about the Sanctuary – to place a candle in the prayer wall; to make a written offering to God at the altar; to create a poem or drawing at our creativity station; or to ask for intercessory prayer at the prayer station. We try to create worship that is experiential – one that engages all the senses and involves the whole person.