Saturday, October 31, 2009

worship with? or without you?: worship, community and u2

Great nite (for me anyhow), at last nite’s evening on U2, with what felt like a really good conversation rolling through the discussion time after. It is so much fun (for me anyhow) thinking missiologically and theologically about something that I love! Thanks to Laidlaw College and Opawa for the opportunity.

What I did was develop and extend my October conference paper. Here is some of my last section, titled: Applications for preaching and worship:

Worship as the awakening of communal memory. We tend to turn up to worship as individuals. So do fans at a concert. The songs awaken individual memories. (As in this video of the crowd at a Glasgow 360 concert. Look at the faces, lots of people with awakened communal memories!) Yet U2 also work at creating communal memories, as they namedrop a place, as they reference shared world events (recent examples would be space station, or Michael Jackson’s death). What does it mean for our worship to deliberately create communal memories? For example, lighting a candle to stand with those who grieving. Or the crafting of worship in relation to public holidays, for example recently here in New Zealand, Labour Day to awaken communal memory as to the rhythm of work and leisure.

The purpose of worship. Reading a live concert as an act of installation art offers a definition: the crafting of a space in which people can look at themselves. Seeker sensitive worship told us to ditch the heavier stuff, yet at a U2 concert we find a band playing to thousands of people and inviting them to engage with them in moments of pray (recent examples are for Aung San Suu Kyi) and lament (recently for Iran) and to join social justice (recently for One campaign). These are contemporary expressions of ancient Christian disciplines. In so doing, U2 are inviting people to look at themselves in relation to the world around. Which sounds like a very worthy purpose of worship, for people, in light of the Christian story, to look at themselves in relation to the world around.

Posted by steve at 12:07 PM

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