One hallmark trait of this pandemic has been the constant building up and casting aside of plans once the need subsides. Or, just changes. Lessons in adaptability have been aplenty! But it's also been a study in evolution.
An example of this is the 6:00 p.m. "eclectic" service. At one time also known as "3.0" (the third service on most Sundays), it originated as an alternative worship experience that not only offered contemporary musical styles but innovative approaches to what a 21st century church could be like. Elements of this original design remain but contemplative characteristics began to become more prominent as the historical role of evening worship, such as the offices of compline and vespers, were given a greater influence to become a modern service of evening prayer.
Then came the pandemic. The service went on hiatus as our energies were directed to the morning livestream service. Soon after, a call to offer a midweek prayerful respite became apparent so Wednesday Vespers emerged. This subconsciously became a resurrection of the 6:00 p.m. service but with greater emphasis on introspection and prayer considering the trying times we were in. Even the sung Lord's Prayer (John Newell's "The Prayer of Jesus") found its way back in without us fully realizing our intention. As the pandemic slowly began to subside, a "return to normalcy" became the collective desire and so the service returned to Sunday evenings after many months away, albeit on Zoom. Vespers was missed by faithful participants, including myself and the ministers, so we kept those introspective pieces that became refined during the months-long midweek run while reintroducing elements that have not been heard in quite a while. And now, the 6:00 p.m. service has fully returned and is the first live in-person worship service Plymouth has been able to offer in 14 months! If you have been keeping score, this all amounts to a reboot of a reboot of a reboot of a reboot.
The result of this convoluted evolution courtesy of the pandemic is nothing short of a rebirth. The process reminds me of the signature mole dish by famed Mexican chef Enrique Olvera. This celebrated dish is heated and reheated repeatedly over time carrying over the delicious flavors from months ago while adding new and fresh ingredients for each day of service. The result is a living dish that can be experienced differently by guests at various times. But it's always an honest and delicious meal.
As we find ourselves on the cusp of opening Plymouth's doors again, let us still catch the flames of Pentecost and walk into rebirth. Rising like the phoenix—in due time.
Director of Music/Organist
Mark Heiskanen has been Plymouth's Director of Music since September 2017. Originally from Northeast Ohio, Mark has experience and great interest in a diverse range of musical styles including jazz, rock, musical theatre, and gospel. He is thrilled to serve a congregation and staff that values diversity and inclusion in all facets of life. Read his mostly-weekly Music Minute here.