Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Transformation + worship: conversation with U2’s Willie Williams and Romans 12

Tuesday I had to speak for 5 minutes on the word “transformation” as it applied to worship. It was fun to try and say something in 5 minutes. (And gives a reason for some of the rant I blogged on Monday and some from Opawa might recognise fragments from a sermon series last year!)

I began with a projection of Willie Williams Lumia Domestica, as people walked in, helping to create an environment.

(This is an entire interview, if you’re pushed for time, start at 4:13)

On the screen is an art exhibition by Willie Williams. Called Lumia Domestica it aims to take the ordinary things, the everyday things, the domestic things, and see what happens, how they are transformed, when Light is shone on them.

The word transformation, and our topic – worship – brought to mind Romans 12:1-2.

 1Therefore, I urge you … in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed.

The word transformation, is, in the Greek, the word metamorphousthe, from which we get the word metamorphosis.

Rather than only words, let me offer you a visual reflection on transformation, metamorphousthe, and worship.

I then showed the following Youtube visual, for 55 secs. (Note – sound was OFF!!)

In Romans 12, transformation is about the whole of life. In verse 1-2; present your bodies. This stops us reducing transformation to ideas and the intellect.

Or as we are told in Uniting in Worship 2:1 “People are shaped by story, by narrative … Christian people are shaped by the story of Jesus …. The story is told through proclamation – which may include reading the Scriptures, preaching, reflection on Scripture, drama/movement, symbolic action, art, multimedia resources, and silence … ” So transformation in worship begins with attention to the whole senses of the whole body.

Then in 3-8; we are told of diverse gifts. Or as we are reminded in the Basis of Union: “the one Spirit has endowed the members of Christ’s Church with a diversity of gifts … there is no gift without its corresponding service: all ministries have a part in the ministry of Christ.”

This stops us reducing worship to the gifts of a few.

To quote Jonny Baker, new book Curating worship (for a review of the book, see here): “In many church circles the only gifts that are valued for worship are musical ones or the ability to speak well. This attitude needs shattering, and opening up so that poets, photographers, ideas people, geeks, theologians, liturgists, designers, writers, cooks, politicians, architects, movie-makers, storytellers, parents, campaigners, children, bloggers, DJs, VJs, craft-makers … can get involved.” (12)

Jonny argues for an approach to worship that is neither liturgical presiding. Nor is it choosing some songs and fronting a band. Rather it is what he calls “curating worship” an approach that like a art curator, seeks the best environment by which to showcase the whole bodies gifts and graces.

Then in Romans 12:9-21 the focus is how the whole world. As a result of whole bodies, the whole body is to “bless those who persecute you. If the enemy is hungry, feed them.”

This stops worship being for “I” and “we”, and instead offers us worship for “them”; for the transformation of the whole world.

To quote Paul Walton, introducing Uniting in worship 2 on ABC radio: “I think good liturgy is liturgy that’s not only understandable but connects with life as a whole.”2

Inviting whole bodies, honouring the whole body, for transformation, metamorphousthe of the whole world.

Posted by steve at 06:41 PM