Saturday, May 07, 2011

Jesus washes Osama’s feet

Just saw this picture, Lars Justinen from the Justinen Creative Group, who painted the above picture to use on posters advertising a conference. It was from 2007, so I’m a bit slow.

After some of my posts this week (Augustine, Bono, Revelation on Osama), does someone need to now paint a picture of Jesus preparing Osama’s body for burial, according to Muslim custom, weeping for the state of our world today?

Posted by steve at 12:21 PM

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

creationary: In search of a round table

A creationary: a space to be creative with the lectionary. For more resources go here.

A few weeks ago I posted a communion reflection, on how the roundness of a communion table remakes us – a reflection of the physicality of the table, the importance of space and the power of the gospel to change relationships, powers and hierarchies.

Maggi Dawn has just posted a poem in a very similar vein.

In search of a round table
a poem by Charles Lathrop

Concerning the why and how and what and who of ministry,
One image keeps surfacing: A table that is round.

It will take some sawing
To be roundtabled.
Some redefining
And redesigning,
Some redoing and rebirthing
Of narrow long Churching
Can painful be
For people and tables.
It would mean no daising
And throning,
For but one king is there
And he is a foot washer,
At table no less.

And what of narrow long ministers
When they confront
A round table people,
After years of working up the table
To finally sit at its head,
Only to discover
That the table has been turned round?

They must be loved into roundness,
For God has called a People
Not “them and us”.
“them and us” are unable
to gather round; for at a round table
there are no sides
and ALL are invited
to wholeness and to food.

At one time
Our narrowing churches
Were built to resemble the Cross
But it does no good
For building to do so,
If lives do not.

Round tabling means
No preferred seating,
No first and last,
No better, and no corners
For the “least of these”.
Roundtableing means
Being with,
A part of,
Together and one.
It means room for the Spirit
And gifts
And disturbing profound peace for all.

We can no longer prepare for the past.
We will and must and are called
To be Church,
And if He calls for other than a round table
We are bound to follow.

Leaving the sawdust
And chips, designs and redesigns
Behind, in search of and in presence of
The Kingdom
That is His and not ours.

Posted by steve at 09:32 AM

Friday, March 18, 2011

this table remakes us: a creationary communion introduction

A creationary: a space to be creative with the lectionary. For more resources go here.

We find ourselves today gathered in a circle
in a flow of love

We find in our centre a table

And a loaf of bread

And a cup

This table has remade us
changed the way we sit
changed the way we relate
as equals, in a flow of love

Explanatory note: On Wednesday at chapel, I had been asked to lead the communion part. As I entered the room, I noted that the usual seating had been rearranged. Instead of rows and a front, there was a small table, with a white tablecloth, upon which was the bread and cup. And the chairs had been placed in a circle. The change of architecture intrigued me and on the spot I thought it warranted changing (remaking) of my communion introduction. I note it here in honour of the role that space plays in our experience of worship.

Posted by steve at 10:06 AM

Friday, November 12, 2010

creationary: communion as call and response

I am placing on the blog two communion prayers. Both are based on a call and response, where the essential telling of the story is done by the congregation, not by the presider/leader.

I have found this pattern of enormous help in recent times. It is an echo of the Hebrew Passover pattern, in which the child asks questions and the answers tell the story. It is an echo of Baptist communion theology in which the gathered community are the site for naming sacramentality (for where two or three are gathered, there is Christ). It is a way of inviting the community to do liturgy – the work of the people. It is a chance to deepen understanding, for as people say words, they are more likely to be engaged and thoughtful in and around those words.

One of these “call and response” prayers comes from the church in Kenya. The other comes from colleague Craig Mitchell (more…)

Posted by steve at 08:39 AM

Thursday, April 01, 2010

communion as community storytelling

Craig Mitchell offered what I found a wonderfully helpful communion at chapel here on Wednesday.

Often the words leading into communion are said by the person at the front and run the danger of becoming a potentially lengthy monologue. Instead, on Wednesday, leading into communion, the communion leader asked questions of those gathered. Questions like

Why have we gathered here?
What story shall we live?
Where did this story begin?
Whose story is this?
Why then should we speak of this story?
Tell me what he said and did
Let’s celebrate the way that grace has shaped our lives, I invite you to say aloud a prayer of thanks
What is our prayer on this day?

The responses (scripted) were provided by those gathered. In so doing, the people told of the redemptive story, proclaimed the words of Institution, welcomed the Spirit, joined with the crowd of witnesses.

It felt so much more like the work of the people. It reminded me of the Jewish Passover tradition in which learning happens on a question and answer basis. Thus faith formation is placed within the context of home and food and inter-generational relationships. Doing this in Holy Week added yet another layer, for it was on Maundy Thursday that Jesus gathered his disciples for the last time in a Passover type meal.

So thanks Craig, for offering simultaneously a fresh, yet deeply traditional approach to communion.

Posted by steve at 01:10 PM