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.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
seeing formation: a theology of colour
Can we see formation?
In the Jesus Deck, the card for John 20:16 invites us to see the colours of formation. The risen Jesus appears to Mary. This, for Mary, is a life-changing moment. An encounter, a discovery, a recognition. It is a culmination of a number of years of discipleship, of questioning, following, pondering.
And this is visible. You hear it in her words “Master.”
But you also see it, in the Jesus Deck card, in the colours of the face of Mary. You see, around Jesus is a wheel of colour – hues of pinks, oranges, yellows. What is intriguing is that these same colours are in the face of Mary – she reflects, in hues of pinks, oranges, yellows, the colours of the Risen Jesus. This is deeply theological, a way of seeing the likeness of Christ.
But not Mary. Mary can’t see this. She can feel it. She can verbalise it. But we all know it is impossible to see our own faces. So only the viewer, the other, the outsider, can see the life change, can wonder at the colour.
This suggests a profoundly communal approach to formation. Mary needs us to see. Mary is blessed when we name back to her these colours, tell her what we are seeing. Alone we are limited. Together, all the senses are able to be appreciated.
This connects for me in two ways. First, personally, what are the colours currently in my face? Looking at the card, it struck me that I’ve worked too hard this week. Which directly effects the colours in my face. My being out of balance, my lack of formation, physically, becomes apparent. When I’m rested, when I’m relaxed, when I’ve laughed with friends, that shows – in colour, in my face. That’s interesting to ponder.
Second, this week at Uniting College has included formation panels. For our ministerial candidates, three times a year, for what amounts to a six year period, they meet with same panel of experienced ministers (for more here) Contemplating John 20:16, looking at the Jesus Deck, I realised that these processes are actually about seeing colour. The candidate can feel the impact of training for ministry. The candidate might verbalise this impact. But they can’t see it. It is the gift of the panel, however humanly, however falteringly, to try to name the colours back to the candidate. This is gift, to have what is happening in you and for you discerned and described.
This is deeply communal approach to formation. To reframe Martin Buber, this is not only the “I” of growth, or even the “I” to “I” of a person with a supervisor or mentor. It is an “I” to “we” encounter, a three way partnership between the Risen Jesus of John 20:16, the individual and some members of the body of Christ.
Third (thanks Lynne), this is missional. Anyone can look at the face of another, or in this case the face of Mary. Those inside and outside the community. The encounter with Christ is not only for Mary, not only for formation, it is part of the work of Christ made visible in our world.
Reframing Lindbeck, through time Christianity has developed a grammar for how the colours are described, named, affirmed. This introduces another layer of embodiment. The body in history has this grammar. Saints before (saints current, other candidates in formation, those in the formation panel, Christians and ministers in general) are also colour carriers. This is another dimension of mirroring. Mary can hear her colours described, Mary can also see colours in the lives of others.
(I realise as I write that this is all grist for the mill in preparation for my September presentation in Sydney – Living libraries: Embodiment and transformation in the context of e-learning)
For more on colours and formation see -
Last year I reflected on the colours of formation – to ask what colours are the processes of formation and the use of a colour wheel to capture the organic changes through life.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
from spark to worship: praying the Psalms with roses on world map
Yesterday I blogged, grateful for the sparks of inspiration from a Sunday browse through Ikea. I understand creativity as a we
Today I found myself on chapel, which involves around 20 minutes of prayer. It is in the semester break here at College, so it tends to be staff, a smaller group. So here is how the spark became worship.
To give some Scriptural spine, I checked the lectionary readings and selected the Psalm (Psalm 85) for the week, which I printed so folk could read.
I was thinking about how people might want to name their prayers. I’d noticed a few days ago a stray rose still in the garden, so grabbed that on the way to work. To keep it fresh, I took it in a plastic container. Opening the lid during the morning, I was struck by the scent and realised that might be a helpful sense to engage.
With my 20 minutes I welcomed people and invited us to stand around the world map/table. We read the Psalm, verse by verse around the group, which gave voice to our prayer. I handed the rose around the group and as I hoped, people caught the scent and with a word of surprise, discovered it’s joy together.
I noted that at the heart of Christian faith is the Easter story, in which brokenness and vulnerability are so essential. I invited us to pray by handing the rose, again, around the group. We would each break of a petal and place it on the world map, naming what were praying for. We would keep doing this until the rose ran out of petals.
This happened, naturally, beautifully, for around 15 minutes. We concluded by reading again the Psalm, again around the group. And a final picture, to “capture” our prayer.
A spark – a world map. Which became worship – prayers for the world and each other. Which involved the hearing of Scripture, the smell of the rose, the touch of a petal, the visual engagement with the world and each other. And this deep sense of being in the presence of God, tender with each other and God’s world.
Creationary: a space to be creative with the lectionary (in this case, praying the Psalms). For more resources go here.
Monday, July 22, 2013
ikea worship inspirations
I love wandering Ikea. (I’ve blogged about this before – Confessions: the place of Ikea in worship and teaching). I invariably, as I wander Ikea, come away with a few ideas for worship, inspired by the fusion of good design with customer sensitivity all fused with the DIY ethic
Here are yesterdays offerings after a Sunday shop:
First, a world map table. It is hard to see, because overhead lighting is reflected in the glass. But it is a world map, etched in a glass table. This has got all sorts of possibilities. For example communion table, with elements placed “for the world.” Or a prayer station, in which people post prayers for the world on the table. Or with a bit of experimentation, it might well be that some pens might be able to write on glass and be washed off. So people could write their prayers on the table.
Second, pop up stations. These are advertised in the children’s section. They are made of cardboard, so can be decorated in all sorts of way. Aesthetically, they would make a great set of stations, all identical, yet all able to be named differently.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Colour my faith
Olive Fleming Drane posted a delightful picture, of the new floor in Glasgow’s new Paperchase.
It’s a delightful reminder of the power and place of colour. And the implications for our engagement with Christian faith.
Like “colour divina.” Imagine hearing the same Bible text, read slowly, read repeatedly. And each time, standing in a different colour. Where is purple in the text? Where is the colour red? Where do we see green?
Imagine different stations, placed on different coloured mats. Confession on red, benediction on green, hearing the Scriptures in purple.
At Opawa, for a period of time, part of the call to worship included the invitation:
Words of introduction: We all come from different weeks; good and bad, busy and slow, major and minor. What colour would describe your emotions and experiences this week?
Action: In baskets at various places around the auditorium are a wide range of colours. Each colour square has a hot dot fixed to the back. As we gather as a community in worship this morning I invite you
a) choose a colour square that says something about your week.
b) peel the backing paper of the hot dot on the back and place your colour on the cross.
You can do this at any time before the service.
Prayer: We will start our service with the following prayer
Leader: Arriving, we bring our current reality.
All: The good and the bad. The busy and the slow. The major and the minor.
Leader: We dare to believe that God is among us.
All: Among us as one who listens, holds, loves, heals, guides.
Leader: We dare to believe that we are safe here.
All: Safe among friends journeying together. Journeying to a deeper knowledge of, love for and service with God. In Jesus name. Amen.
(full post here)
For more on the place of colour in Christian faith, see
Friday, May 17, 2013
Sense-gesis: What does Jesus smell like?
Sense Making Faith continues. We have 3 “guides” who share the teaching and 7 participants. Enough for a very rich group experience. Like all good classes, I’m learning as much as the participants.
Last week a rich learning moment occurred as we listened to the noises around the cross. This week a rich learning moment occurred, first as we walked outside. It had just rained and as we walked we became even more keenly aware of night air, wet air, petrol fumes and takeways. We wondered together if a community could have bad smells and what it meant for the church to be a good smell.
Then we returned inside to “smell” the Bible. What are the smells of Christmas, the smells at the calling of the first disciples, the smells of the Easter garden?
The conversation turned to Jesus. What does Jesus smell like? Is the classical Christian affirmation, of Christ as fully human and fully divine, embodied in smell?
In Psalm 45:8 the robes of the Lord are fragrant with Myrrh and aloes and cassia. Is this poetic language? Or does holiness have a smell? Would the resurrected Jesus smell different than the unresurrected Jesus?
All of these, theologically, are pushing at embodiment, what it means for Incarnation to take real presence among us. Some wondered if Jesus smells different ways to different people at different seasons in their lives. Are there times when the full humanity of Jesus is a more pastorally connective than the full divinity? If so, what are the implications for our mission and ministry?
You can see why I love Sense Making Faith!
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Pentecost worship in indigenous language
Daily chapel at Uniting College today was superb. Our Director of Missiology, Rosemary Dewerse had created a visual environment. In the centre was a world map, with red counters and a red candle lit. The invitation was to lay a counter on the table, and in so doing, to name a place and situation in the world we wished to pray for.
To begin she taught us a chant, in the language of the Adnyamathanha people, from the Northern Flinders.
undakarana ardla, ngapalan yarta yanangka.
In English “The light of Christ has come into the world.”
Using indigenous clap sticks to keep the beat, we began to sing this simple refrain, a gift to us from those who’ve gone before us in this land. A people who’ve endured colonisation and hardship, exploitation and persecution, yet who have still find space to offer their language, their praise, their experience of the life of Christ come into their world.
It was a beautiful, natural, heartfelt way to be in the presence of God. It is part of a shift at Uniting College, in which in more and more ways, we are finding ourselves engaged with indigenous peoples. An important part of this has been relationship building, one to one, and then in Walking on Country, an immersion experience with our candidates for ministry at the beginning of this year.
It’s easy for this to be tokenism, and yet the result for us over recent months has instead been increased enrichment – in stories told in our midst, in shared candidate life together and now in our chapel life. The awareness of the other is becoming such gift.
And with Pentecost this week, it was a wonderful embodiment of the Spirit’s work, the enfleshing of faith in native languages, the crossing of cultural boundaries.
And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Acts 2:8
Monday, May 13, 2013
hearing the cross as sense-exegesis
We are now three weeks into Sense Making Faith course. Each week we take a sense. We explore its use in our world today. And it’s abuse. We explore it’s use in the Christian tradition. And it’s abuse (often through neglect).
Last week we explored hearing. We brought our favourite spiritual music. We listened and made a list of all the noises we heard. We reflected on how much we miss – of ourselves, of God, of our world, because we don’t listen (ie abuse the sense of hearing).
Then we turned to the Christian tradition. What Bible stories describe God speaking, I asked?
The cross, was one response.
Let’s push that further, I said. What noises do we hear around the cross?
And we began to reflect, “hearing” the cross in a whole new way;
- nails being hammered
- gamblers rolling dice
- centurion ordering
- a last breathe being drawn
- a curtain being torn
Within two minutes, we had engaged the cross in a much deeper, richer way. This, I suggested, was “sense-exegesis.” We have taken a sense, one sense, and applied it to Scripture. We can do this with any passage. And with any sense.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
breath prayers as communion
At communion yesterday (as well as offering a missional introduction), I wanted to try and embody the great prayer of thanksgiving. It is a prayer that is often patterned on salvation history, moving from creation, through the people of Israel, to Jesus, with the saints. One way to offer embodiment, and experience embodiment, is through the simple act of breathing.
I’d also been thinking about brains. As you do!
And the fact that apparently connections between neurons in the brain produces an electrical charge. With every electrical charge comes a corresponding magnetic field. And that although magnetic fields rapidly lose their force, they never completely dissipate. So every thought and memory ever produced still lives, as an infinitesimal magnetic trace. So how to engage with that reality at communion?
God we breathe in air. As we do, we thank you for creation, for the air we breathe, the birds that sing in the morning, the colour of the gum trees.
God we breathe in air. Air breathed by others. As we do, we thank you for those who’ve gone before, for the prophets and saints who’ve showed us how to live life and seek justice.
God we breathe in air. Air breathed by others, including the God-man Jesus. As we do, we thankyou for the humanity of Jesus’ breath, the places he walked, the people he healed, the grace he offered, the words he said.
And so we pray together the prayer, Jesus invited us to pray …. and we recall the words of Jesus, who took bread ….
Creationary: a space to be creative with the lectionary (in this case, visual images on themes of pilgrimage). For more resources go here.