Thursday, October 05, 2006

You may have noticed again

...not a lot of writing going on at the moment, that's because i have been out again all day doing things that clergy do - prayers to start the day, visiting a colleague, visiting parishoners and finally the meeting i have just got back from, our worship leader training course run by Ely Diocese.

Now there's not much i could (or rather should) write about the day itself, but the evening was refreshing, entertaining, thought provoking as we met for the first time this year to begin this training course for those who want to be more involved in the worshipping life of the church. It's exciting and positive that the Church at large is resourcing and supporting people in exploring the wider vocation to Christian ministry rather than narrowing it down to getting people ordained in order to do stuff in the Christian Community.

One reflection to come out of the discussions tonight was how affective worship is. The main focus of the evening was to talk about experiences of worship which have 'made their mark' on us, where we have encountered or been enlivened or challenged by something in worship that has stayed with us. There were a wide variety of experiences but the common thread was the feeling that in some action or words or event God met with people. People talked of moments which they couldn't really describe or explain. Which of course links to some of my thoughts in my last post about the Christian community being a place of mystery and shared experience.

It also goes alongside what i have been reading in 'The out of bounds church' (link in last post) by steve taylor. As i was reading through a chapter earlier today i was struck by the way that the Church has elevated the status of 'the word' or perhaps 'words' rather than the experience of worshippers, or a genuine encounter with 'The Word'' - Jesus. We hang our worship on words and carefully crafted sermons and liturgy, when what really changes people is the experience of meeting God and opening themselves up to God's Spirit in worship.

There's a need to rediscover creativity, experimentation and excitement in worship. Not just through music, or rather singing, (which is the fallback in most churches after or instead of liturgy) but by engaging the senses of touch, taste, smell, sight as well as sound. Many Christians seem to have an inherent fear of these things, and there are often accusations of putting style over substance, but this is the currency of everyday life and in our very foundations Jesus didn't leave us with a service but with the breaking, sharing, tasting and very visual and powerful images of bread and wine in communion (or the Eucharist, or Mass, or Lord's Supper or whatever). I'm not saying this is the only type of worship we should have, but it surely is the prototype - engaging all of our senses in our encounter with God.

So more thinking needing to be done. You will all soon be fed up of seeing me say this. I will need to post some images and music on this blog too, in order to practise what i preach! Perhaps a few recipes too!

1 comment:

jeff said...

"We hang our worship on words and carefully crafted sermons and liturgy, when what really changes people is the experience of meeting God and opening themselves up to God's Spirit in worship."

I guess I'd have to disagree with that statement to some extent. The temptation is to juxtapose preaching against worship and I think that is wrong. To be honest, I think worship takes place best outside of church. The fault in our thinking is that worship happens at church and people get the idea that's only where it happens.

I see church's main function as being the edification of the saints, Ephesians 4. He says this is done by the four gifts he gave to the church listed there.

I think the real problem is that we often act in such a way as to cut out the strength of the word, we doubt it actually does anything and we come close to wondering why we don't have more fun and experience instead of reading some book written 2,000 years ago. I think we have to find a way to combine the two instead of downing one and emphasizing the other.