Friday, March 15, 2013

a play me faith

Faith seeking understanding; Lex orandi, lex credendi – “the law of prayer is the law of belief”; we act our way into a new imagination (Al Roxburgh).

All of these are reminders that Christianity is something in which you participate. And as you participate, you are formed, shaped, moulded in the way of Jesus. A “play me” faith.

One of my delights in London was discovering the “play me” piano’s – bright pink, well signed “Play me”, standing at places like St Pancras Train Station and Heathrow.

And the constant bursts of noise, as young and old had a go. Simply played. Sometimes it was simple, a Chopsticks. Other times it was beautiful. Isn’t that the way of faith. It has both simplicity and depth; both Jesus loves me and the indwelling of the three persons of the Trinity in a perichoretic dance of love.

Sometimes it was a first time, the delight as a three year realised their finger could make that noise. Other times it was a regretful caress, a sixty year old remembering a past, a skill not practised, a talent not developed. Again, isn’t that the way of faith. It needs to be rich enough to evangelise first timers, wistful enough to beckon the dechurched, rich enough to nourish the overchurched. So often churches rush for one of these positions, proud of their front door or glad of their theological precision. But a “play me” faith is surely for all, not a narrow band.

A “play me” faith has theory. Embedded in every chord is a mass of musical knowledge, let alone the psychics by which black and white keys produces notes. But you don’t need to learn the theory to play.

During my recent UK Sustainability and fresh expressions research, a “play me” faith was a feature. Worship as something we do rather than is done to us, mission as a chance to encounter God in explore prayer.

Posted by steve at 10:20 AM


  1. Did you see the ‘Play Me’ pianos around Adelaide last year? I don’t recall any hot pink ones, but each piano was painted in a different way or had something unusual about it. They were scattered all around the place in the city, and would occasionally be moved to new locations over night. They were really quite lovely!

    Comment by Catherine — March 25, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

  2. That’s cool. Was that part of the Fringe? Or something else? And were they indoors or outdoors? Easier in Adelaide to do outdoors, but perhaps more likely to be vandalised.

    The picture I took was in London, when I was there on sabbatical.


    Comment by steve — March 25, 2013 @ 3:51 pm

  3. I can’t recall if it was part of the Fringe or part of the Adelaide Festival of the Arts – there was certainly one near the Festival centre for awhile though, so that makes me think the latter.

    They were outdoors – one down one of the sidestreets off the mall, another in front of Adelaide University, the one near the Festival Centre – but I know there were others scattered around. They tended to get moved from place to place a bit, too. I’m not sure if there were any indoors.

    The ones I saw didn’t suffer any major vandalism – I think a lot of street artists and spray painter types kind of identified with the art of what was being done. I think the more… ‘boisterous’, we’ll say, vandalists ripped the top off of one of them, but that was the worst I saw. And it still played fine.

    The one outside the uni was the best to observe – students from the Con would sometimes be playing beautiful things.

    Comment by Catherine — April 11, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

  4. Thanks Catherine, that’s really helpful. Fascinating that they didn’t get vandalised. That says something


    Comment by steve — April 11, 2013 @ 8:58 pm

  5. Oh, it was the year before last (2011), sorry. I do know there was at least one around last year though – by the Festival Centre.

    More info on the 2011 installation here (the first has a very cute video over different locations with differently decorated pianos, the second link shows the location of all the 30+ instruments):

    There’s a lot of other info and video fottage around, too – just Google ‘Play Me, I’m Yours Adelaide’ or ‘Adelaide Street Pianos.’

    Comment by Catherine — April 15, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

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