Tuesday, September 16, 2014
alt.worship in Istanbul
This is the most gorgeous space for alt.worship.
The Basilica Cisterns in Istanbul. Built by a Roman Emperor (Justinian), to store water in 532 AD, they have been opened to tourists in recent years.
It was dark, being underground, which immediately invited a different experience. It was lit, each pillar, creating a rich mood. There was water, being an underground cistern, which gave the light another surface to reflect with. There was music, a soft, ethereal, looped recording, which opened up a even richer space. There was history, something retrieved from the past and offered into contemporary culture. It was a reminder of the beauty and potential of space.
Not all alt.worship can find such spaces.
But that awareness of environments, the interplay of senses and the retrieval of history – those are all key elements in alt.worship. The best exploration of this is Doug Gay, Remixing The Church: Towards an Emerging Ecclesiology. His work on unbundling and retrieval provide an excellent analysis of the rich and complex interactions possible when faith is thrown forward because it is located in the past.
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
QR codes in worship
This image of a temporary tattoo QR code printed on a person (from here) got me thinking about embodiment and worship.
I love that sense of mystery, of not knowing, yet of being aware of information on offer. It got me thinking about worship. For example, here is the lectionary reading for Sunday. (Built from here)
Imagine that on the front of the newsletter as people came in.
Or imagine printing various stations on people. Here is a call to worship, again linked to the lectionary text.
And to have people scattered around your auditorium, as “worship leaders.” Finding these people and using your cell phone to find out the next step in your worship journey.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Affirmations from the outside
On Sunday I preached Matthew 15:22-28, Jesus encounter with the Syro-Phonecian woman. I was struck by her understanding of Jesus, her articulation of faith.
Sometimes in worship we draw on affirmations of faith, spoken statements about what we understand of Christ. These often come from those inside the church. Yet here in Matthew 15, Jesus declares the Syro-Phonecian woman has “great faith.” (15:28)
So what is the Affirmation of faith not from the “inside” but from the “outside”, from one outside the church?
I believe in God the compassionate (have mercy, my daughter is suffering – v. 22)
in whom is mercy
I believe in Jesus the healer and helper (help me – v. 25)
from a royal line (Lord, Son of David – v. 22)
the radical boundary crosser (stepping across boundaries from your culture to my culture)
I believe in a Spirit, generous
in calling me from past to present (moving beyond the pain of the past, your ancestor’s history with Canaanite).
Now isn’t that a faith worth affirming, an outsider Creed worth bringing into our midst?
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Lost Dogs Breathe Deep
Classic song. Great rift, great lyrics, such a lovely interplay of all people invited into God’s presence.
Michael Treston introduced me to Lost Dogs. It was 1996 and we were planting Graceway.
Michael and Maureen arrived from Thames, to train at Carey Baptist College for pastoral ministry. A welder from Redcar in England and a Maori woman from Thames, they added some much needed reality to our community.
Monday, June 16, 2014
Trinity art at Tarlee
On Sunday, I led worship and preached at Tarlee Uniting. It was Trinity Sunday and I offered a number of multi-sensory ways to engage the Trinity – a tasting experience, a body prayer, a visual engagement with two art images, the making of friendship bracelets as a benediction. I was a bit unsure how, being new to a church, such input would go. I was also unsure how it would play in a rural community.
Despite my anxiety, people engaged really, really well. There was lots of interaction. What was even more intriguing was that within a few minutes of the service finishing, the visual images were being displayed on the outdoor noticeboard.
The full service was as follows –
Trinity Sunday 2014
Enter – Taste the trio – hand out cracker, cheese and gherkins at door instead of hymnbooks
Welcome – 2 Cor 13: 14 The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.
Introduction to theme – Why food? Trinity Sunday. Three in one.
Praise – use songs. Use our bodies
God is beyond anything we can imagine (traditionally the symbol of God the Father)
God is with us (and many believe became one of us- the “Son”)
God is within us (The Spirit)
and amongst us (The Spirit)
Children’s talk – introduce Rublev’s Icon, as a way of understanding God for culture that cannnot read, as a picture to be explained.
Readings: 2 Corinthians 13:11-end; Matthew 28:16-20
Reflection – Malcolm Gordon, Sweetest mystery
O God, even as we celebrate your unity, we know that sometimes
we break that unity, in our own lives, in our families, in our communities, with your earth
Sermon – introduce a second art piece, then return to name the children’s talk picture as Rublevs Icon, and set the context as a act of public and practical theology.
Offering and Intercession: Pick up on the two lectionary texts. 2 Corinthians 13:11-end and so to pray for church and people we know; Matthew 28:16-20 and so to pray for God’s mission in the world.
Final song: I bind unto myself – St Patrick, Eucharist CD – while making friendship bracelet. Including option of weaving in a bead (My partner had find beads with letters of the alphabet, and people were invited to choose a bead with a name of person that want woven into the Trinity of love.
Benediction: Return to opening greeting, 2 Corinthians 13:11-end
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
ascension day worship: creationary
Call to worship – Meet me in the middle of the air, Paul Kelly
A divine invitation, through the words of Paul Kelly, to make this a time to come, meet with God.
Welcome to country and praise.
And so we appreciate this place as a meeting place. In silence, we respect to those who’ve met here before us – other students and staff. In silence we respect other denominations who’ve met in this place. In silence, we respect to traditional owners of this land; their elders.
Link: The Paul Kelly song has echoes of Psalm 23. It also has echoes of Ascension Day. 40 days after Easter; 10 days before Pentecost. Church celebrates Ascension Day. It’s major feast in the church. When Jesus goes to meet God. Let’s hear the Story.
Scripture – Acts 1:1-11
Affirmation of faith: verbal – In response to the reading, a verbal affirmation of faith
Say Apostles Creed
Affirmation of faith: visual – In response, to the reading, a visual affirmation of faith
Lansdowne ‘The Shaftesbury Psalter’; 2nd quarter of the 12th century
Two spheres, blue and red. Two angels, lifting up feet of Jesus toward the Divine. The disciples gathered.
It’s a very literal interpretation. I love the angel robed in green, the literalness of gravity at work, the robe hanging down. Part of me struggles with literalism. I’m a White Westerner. I don’t live with a view of the world of 1st century world.
Yet part of me also finds the literalism strangely compelling. It affirms importance of bodies. The Ascension of Jesus means that the human body joins God. No human body of Jesus folding up like a sack of skin on the ground.
Instead we have the nail scarred hands been taken to heaven. Spear wound. Calloused feet from walking all over Judea. Hands that touched a leper. The nose that smelt dead Lazarus emerging. The mouth that enjoyed the best of wine at the wedding of Cana.
This human body joins God. Not cast aside as B-grade. The body is as important as spirit. Our armpits and noses, sweat glands, feelings, tiredness – all caught up, in Jesus, with God. Embraced in the Trinity. The celebration of human bodies is complete.
Personally, I find that literalism, that valuing of real bodies more and more compelling.
It also helps me appreciate much more the body left behind. Eugene Rogers, theologian, (in his book After the Spirit: A Constructive Pneumatology from Resources Outside the West) notes how you have to read Ascension Day with Pentecost.
At Ascension God goes up, the body of Christ leaves. Pentecost, God comes down in the Spirit, the body begins, the church as the body of Christ. A second valuing of the body. Our body. Us as the church. Our armpits and noses, sweat glands, feelings, tiredness – embraced in the Trinity. The celebration of human body the church is complete.
This is a feature for Uniting Church as we come to communion. As a Uniting Church, we believe that the Spirit does not inhabit the elements. Nor does it inhabit the holy hands. Rather the Spirit inhabits the gathered community.
We are the body of Christ. We need to let go, Don’t touch, in order to truly be.
Leader: We confess, our lack of care for our bodies, our lack of care for the body of Christ, the church, We confess
All: we have wandered, bring us home
Absolution: Grace, peace and purpose be upon you
Peace: Greet your neighbours with the sign of peace
Leader: Let us pray Lift up your hearts, give thanks and sing
ALL: Hosanna, Hosanna
Leader: Father thanks for making us thanks for taking us, thanks for showing us the way And thankyou especially for you Son Jesus Christ who said, take, eat this is my body, which is given for you
And take, drink, this is my blood shed for you for many, for the forgiveness of sins. Spirit, bless it, bless us, your body; Bless all creation
All: As it was, as it is, as it will be
By human God, through abundant God, to the glory of Almighty God
We believe this to be the body and blood of Christ, Not to be taken lightly Let anyone who feels called is welcome to this table These are the gifts of God, for the people of God.
Say together The Lord’s prayer
Thankyou Lord, for being with us
Benediction: As you go, may the Ascended Christ meet you
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
The annual College graduation happened on Monday evening. As part of the evening, it was suggested we introduce a charge to the graduates, something to focus them as the evening drew to an end. I was asked to have a go. Searching for inspiration, I took our Graduate outcomes, four in number and tried to weave some verbs and some theology around them.
Here is the result, a charge to graduates
We charge you to go,
Go, in the power of God’s Spirit, Advocate, Gift-giver, Bringer of life,
Go, to be a reflective thinker, to engage the richness of Christian faith with life and people, wherever you find them.
We charge you to walk,
Walk with the deep tradition of the church in history, in the footsteps of Abraham and Sarah, Priscilla and Aquila, Augustine and Aquinas
Walk as skilled practitioners, integrating theology and practice – creatively, imaginatively and wisely – wherever you find yourself.
We charge you to travel,
Travel, from the love of this community of learners
Travel as life long learners, self-directed, yet collaborative, connecting with people and communities, wherever you find them
We charge you to journey,
Journey in the name of Christ – teacher, storyteller, parable maker,
Journey, as an effective communicator, respectful in dialogue, empowering in leadership, active in justice and compassion.
We charge you.
Wednesday, May 07, 2014
laying the table: creationary Psalm 23 and John 10
I had a few minutes today, in which to put together some worship for College chapel (20 minute chapels that take place weekly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays). I wish I could have given it more time, but a run of unexpected commitments ate into my planned preparation time.
The lectionary texts for this week include Psalm 23 and John 10. The theme that seemed to emerge was “laying the table.” It links “You prepare a table before me” with “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” and communion. It also connected with my experience during the week. Last night I brought home a bunch of sun flowers for the family. They sat on the kitchen table overnight and just seemed to light up the room. So “laying the table” began to be a theme by which to frame the service.
So I began by telling my story and then inviting folk to lay a flower on the table and name something in which they were finding beauty and life. We ended up with a table spread with flowers. It was lovely, a physical call to worship and expression of praise, our praise, unique to today.
I then noted that the Christian tradition gives us more to “lay on the table.” I laid the Bible on the table, then asked folk to pass it around, reading a verse each from Psalm 23.
I then noted that the Christian tradition gives us more to “lay on the table.” This time, baptism for cleansing. A short prayer and then I sprinkled water from the font over those gathered, over the table, over the entrance way, and used some sentences from John 10 as the Words of absolution.
I then noted that the Christian tradition gives us yet more to “lay on the table.” I placed on the table bread and wine. By now the table was very richly symbolic – praise, Scripture, confession and absolution in baptism, communion – all laid by us as a community in ways both personal yet connective with the Christian tradition. Indeed, a table prepared before us, one in which we find life, and have it abundantly.
Which led naturally into intercession, praying for places that lack abundance.
Below is the worship order with some more exact wording: (more…)
Wednesday, April 02, 2014
I was asked to lead devotions for a group yesterday. Being Lent, I took 3 images from the week that was in Si Smith’s wonderful 40 series and printed them on paper.
I provided a brief introduction, of the author, of the imaginative exercise of wondering what Jesus might have done for 40 days in the wilderness and how these were resourcing my life this Lent. I then invited the group in pairs, to take an image each.
What strikes you? What Biblical passages come to mind as you look at each picture?
Share with the wider group?
If these pictures were prayer, what would it be? We’re busy people, so please keep it simple. Either thanks for … or please…
The interaction was rich, the insights important, the prayer apt, heartfelt and richly participative.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
preamble communion words
Throughout this week, Uniting College has been participating in the Destiny Together week of prayer and fasting. This is a week to pray and fast for justice for the First Peoples. We’ve been praying daily at 9:30 am each morning as a College and chapel has been open over lunchtime for those who might want to fast. Today at Community worship we shared worship with folk from our local Congress Church – an embodiment of Destiny Together.
I was leading communion and aware of the occasion, wondered what words might shape the practice of communion. I began to wonder if the Preamble, which was drafted in 2009 as a way to constitutionally acknowledge Aboriginal and Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia might be of us. It became a rich journey, exploring how those words, based on extensive consultation with the church, offer a theology of truthtelling and in turn might now become Eucharistic life. To do this would surely be a step toward Destiny Together, a sharing of an agreed document and God in our past, present, future.
So, here is what I drafted, mixing Preamble phrases into a communion liturgy. I used the shape of Uniting in Worship 2, seeking for phrases from the Preamble to give shape. I think it ticks all the boxes – there is epiclesis, confession, Lords prayer, God’s action in history, eschatology, Words of institution (modified slightly but in keeping with other aspects of Eucharistic theology).
With the elements served to us by the Aunties. Wonderful.
The Lord be with you
And also with you
Lift up your hearts
We lift them to the Lord
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
It is right to give our thanks and praise
We bless you Creator for this earth, for the Dreaming and Song lines sung long before human
We thank you for the Spirit already in the land revealing God to the people through law, custom, ceremony
We bless you for the same love and grace that was fully and finally revealed in Jesus Christ
Who took bread, broke it, said Take, eat, in solidarity with those who suffer
Who took the cup, gave thanks, said This is my blood of the new covenant, poured out in hope of life to the full
We bless you for the church and all the storytellers and whisperers of hope through history, called to seek a renewal of its life as a community of First peoples and of Second Peoples from many land.
We lament the silence of the church in the face of broken relationships, Jesus lamb of God
Have mercy on us
We grieve the processes of dispossession, Jesus bearer of our sins
Have mercy on us
We confess the practices of colonisation, Jesus redeemer of the world
Grant us peace
We eat this bread as a foretaste of that coming reconciliation and renewal which is the end in view for the whole creation
We drink this cup, as a sign of our destiny together, praying and working together for a fuller expression of our reconciliation in Jesus Christ.
Pour out your Spirit on us, that these gifts of bread and wine, may make us one with each other and in ministry in the world
Lords prayer in Kaurna language:
Jehovah-’s request / pray-thing ‘The Lord’s Prayer’
Ngadluko yerli karralika tikka-ndi;
Our father on high sits ‘Our father sits in heaven’
Ninna narri tampi-rna, kuinyunda kumarta-ppi-rna;
You name acknowledge-let sacred apart-cause-let ‘Let your name be acknowledged, let it be kept sacred.’
Ninko yerlti-yerlti-nya pintya-rna;
Your advice/command create-let ‘Let your rule be established’
Ninko padloni-tti yerta-ngga wappi-rna
Your want-thing earth-on do-let ‘Let your want be done on earth’
High-on resemble-ing ‘As it is on high’
Ngadluko mai yunggu-ndo!
Our food give-you! ‘Give (us) our food.’
Ngadluko wakkinna kumba-ppi-ndo!
Our sin remove-make-you! ‘Take away our sin.’
Ngadlu tangka waia-re-ndi kumarta-nna-ityangga wakkinna wappe-ndi
We liver move-itself-is separate-pl-with wrong do-ing ‘Have compassion for those who do wrong.’
Sin-to draw-don’t ‘Don’t draw us into sin.’
Sin-from protect make-you! ‘Save us from sin.’
Ninna mattanya, taingi, wilta, burti burti tarkari tundarri.
You owner strength power gladness future forever
‘You are the boss, the strength, the power, the glory for ever and ever.’
Do-let! (i.e. let it be done)
Go in peace to live a Destiny together
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
st patricks day pioneer worship
Yesterday was both St Patricks Day and the start of our week of pioneer evenings with Dave Male. So it seemed appropriate to bring them both together.
What strikes us? What links do we make with our theme – pioneering? What image speaks to us?
I then introduced Breastplate, from the Eucharist CD. I noted the refrain – I bind unto myself today – and invited us, while the song played, to biro tattoo the image that speaks to us onto our arms.
By way of conclusion, as a communal act, we said the Breastplate together.
ALL: I bind unto myself today
Left: The strong name of the trinity
Right: By invocation of the same
Leader: The three in one and one in three
ALL: I bind unto myself today
Left: The great love of the living word
Right: The wisdom of my God to teach
Leader: His hand to guide his shield to ward
ALL: I bind unto myself today
Left: The virtues of the starlit heaven
Right: The glorious sun’s life giving ray
Leader: The fruits of earth so freely given
ALL: I bind unto myself today
Left: The power of God to hold and lead
Right: His eye to watch his might to stay
Leader: His ear to hearken to my need
ALL: I bind unto myself today
Left: The way of Christ in life and death
Right: The call of God to jubilee
Leader: In broken chains and cancelled debt
ALL: I bind unto myself today
Left: The strong name of the trinity
Right: By invocation of the same
Leader: The three in one and one in three
(Words attributed to St Patrick, translation Mrs C F Alexander, 1889, except v.5)
Friday, March 07, 2014
Dispersed Lent Journal Project 2014
This week I released these around the 34 Lipsett Terrace community
Four journals. On the front cover, the following words … Open me, browse me, take me, write in me, return me.
Inside, mainly blank white pages. A few images, a few practices, in case people get stuck. And the following explanation
Dispersed Lent Journal Project
Here at 34 Lipsett Terrace, we are a dispersed community. We are students, staff, teachers. We are post-graduates and undergraduates. We are studying for audit and for credit. We are casual library borrowers and we are hard working full-time students.
The Lenten journal project invites those who cross paths at 34 Lipsett Terrace to share with each other, through a dispersed pattern, what the season of Lent means to us.
The Overview: Lent in the church year is a time to focus on spiritual renewal. Different traditions in the church do this differently. The Dispersed Lent journals invite you to share with each other what this season means to you and how you connect more fully with the God-story in the days leading up to Easter.
The concept: A journal is a place to write. We can write privately, for ourselves. We can write publicly for others. The Lent journal invites us to write publicly, to share faith with each other.
How to proceed?
1. Once you have received the journal, you have no more than seven and no less than two days to spend with it.
2. During those days, put whatever you like in the journal – thoughts, ideas, drawings, photos, recipes, reflections – anything that captures what Lent means for you and how you connect with God during this season. Be creative. Use the exercises or images. Write in your own language.
3. Write aware that what you write will be read by a stranger. That is the nature of a public journal.
4. When you are finished, pass the journal onto another person in the Department of Flinders or ACD or UCLT or Adelaide Theological Library community.
a) It might be someone in your class
b) It might be a lecturer or staff person
c) You might leave it on the table in the Common Space or Adelaide Theological Library.
5. If you get given a journal for a second or third time, it will most likely be different than the first time you received it – different time, more input. You could pass it on straight away. Or treat it as an invitation to write further.
Who gets a journal? Four journals have been prepared. Each is different – different visual, different set of potential practices. Each will be touched by different hands, passed to different people. Each will encounter you at a different time in Lent. Each will be released into the 34 Lipsett Terrace community during the first week of Lent. After the initial release, who knows where the journals will go. Such is the mystery of God in the community.
How is it shared? The journals are public. If you see one, feel free to browse it. When finished, we might scan journal pages (including onto the website) and use them in ongoing ways around the 34 Lipsett Tce campus to encourage students and enhance worship.
So please be aware that by participating in this project, your work will be shared with others.
After Easter, please return the journals to:
Steve Taylor, Uniting College
It will be fascinating to see what happens over Lent.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
40 as Lent resource
Last night I was asked, along with about 10 others, to present some creative ideas that might help church leaders in South Australia preparing for Lent and Easter. It was a resourcing event put on by the Centre for Music, Liturgy, the Arts and a great way, I thought, of resourcing the church.
Each of us presenting had about 5 minutes to offer something creative. I offered two steps in the creative process. The first piece of creativity was not mine, but is the wonderful meditation prepared by cartoonist Si Smith. It is available for download from Proost.
The second piece of creativity was how I had helped my community more deeply engage the first piece of creativity. I offered the following resources.
Some spoken word, some phrases I spoke over the 40 piece. This was a call to worship, a mix of Scripture and spirituality suggestions, that might help people focus on the images. Not everyone has a visual literacy and not everyone turns that visual literacy on in church. So I hoped (in discussion with Si Smith) that some words might open people up to the visuals. The full script is here. It got some excellent feedback, so I offer it here:
Thanks for this Steve, it was a very powerful call to worship. At our Sunday morning service it provoked someone (else) to give a ten minute meditation on what you said. The quote you give about pace and the scale of the project was an excellent preparation.
Or this one
Really liked the interactive / responsive use of the art. I spent most of today adapting it for my community, daily emails and all.
Then a takeaway postcard – ( postcard here). Some of the spoken phrases were spiritual practices, shaped by the excellent Peter Graystone’s Detox Your Spiritual Life in 40 Days So as well as hearing them spoken, folk could take them away as a resource for the Lent period, things to do, a way of using all our bodies, not just singing, in worship.
Worship curation is for me not about the performance, but able the processes by which people can connect, engage and interact – both in the gathering and into the week beyond.
Friday, December 06, 2013
intuitive worship: baptism, ministry, deeper water and Psalm 42
Today we farewelled a colleague. They had expressed a desire for a ritual moment, so over a number of days, by email, among a number of folk, a service of leaving was sketched.
It’s been a hectic week at College and with one of the key folk sick, I wasn’t convinced that all the i’s were crossed or t’s were dotted. Just in case, I grabbed a Bible as I left my office – a useful tool in case of emergencies.
Sure enough, it emerged on the walk over that no-one was down to do the Bible reading. I’d suggested it, so was happy to read. Especially since I had a Bible.
It was the Psalm for today in the Lectionary, Psalm 42. It fitted really well with the opening song. The colleague loves Paul Kelly, so we’d chosen Deeper Water, a song about growth, journey, life.
Deeper water, deeper water,
Deeper water, calling them on
As the song played live, I began to wonder were to stand to read. My eyes settled on the baptismal font. Water. An intuitive link gets made in my mind.
So as the song ended, I stood and walked to the baptismal font. I introduced the Psalm as about deeper water, as about where is God in deeper water. (As a hart longs for flowing streams (v. 1); Deep calls to deep at the thunder of thy cataracts; all thy waves and thy billows have gone over me (v. 7).)
As the Psalm ended, I returned (Djed) the lyrics of the song. “Deeper water, calling you on, and you’re never alone.” I dipped my hands in the water of the baptismal font and walked across to our departing colleague and bent to make the sign of the cross on his forehead.
An intuitive moment – a mix of Paul Kelly, Psalm 42 and the Christian ritual of baptism. For it is in our baptism that we are called into ministry. So a re-affirmation of baptism as that which holds us on the ongoing journey into ministry.
A few extra seconds, wordless, in which the waters of baptism were applied. And I returned, in silence to my seat. It had felt, intuitively the right thing to do.
Creationary: a space to be creative with the lectionary (in this case, baptism, ministry and Psalm 42). For more resources go here.