Sunday, April 26, 2015

'Family Worship' at New Lambton UCA

Here's what we did at New Lambton Uniting tonight [catching up from when I was unwell last October]!! Opening Comments allowing 'on the spot' volunteers to be sought for 'setting the space, but also explain two ways to organise worship for a multi-generational group:
[1] A big group of all ages, over a meal, tossing in ideas and sharing in the preparations
[2] Either that process or a smaller group or even one person designing a highly participatory tactile experience
The first creates 'ownership' and  the second moves away from words as the dominant method
I also explained that 'juxtaposition' would be an idea we'd employ, putting things alongside each other that don't normally go together... here's how we did that...

1. VIDEO: “Signal Strength first NYC wifi orchestra” 3 mins 08
Clip plays and people bring items to ‘set the space’ for worship:
Cloth/s, Bible, Water Jug, Plant and Seeds, Red Mannequin, Storybook, Storybox, Candle
Everyone to be handed a brown paper bag with things they’ll need e.g. post it note, pen, picture...

2. WORDS for worship 
Welcome to this time of worship or ‘people responding to God’
And of being encouraged in our efforts to follow the example of Jesus, in living by God’s values
The ‘good news’ of Jesus was that the rule and reign [sometimes called the Kingdom] of God
is here and now, where compassion, justice, love and grace are found…
[This collection of books] the Bible, is a written down history
of how people have understood God’s efforts to relate to us,
it’s full of ancient stories whose meanings are obscure, it’s a sad and hopeful story all at once...
It's unique, looking backwards but also inviting us forwards
It’s an invitation to believe ‘enough’ that you are willing to put that belief into action…

3. VIDEO CLIP From 'Blue Like Jazz' Turns Out I like Jesus” 1min 45

4. Communal SONG #1 “About the Kingdom”

Take what you need, leave what you don’t, writing on paper strips…
What you need will be pegged to a frame with wool, blanks + pen in brown bag, bowl near frame
After the explanation play, instrumental cover of “Bad” by U2 3mins 30 

6. MARK 4: 26-29
26 He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
The Kingdom of God, or people choosing to live out God’s values,
I wonder if it will happen quietly & slowly, but certainly… the seed in this story grows ‘automatically’…

7. VOLUNTEER Reader ‘THE BOY ON THE PAGE Peter Carnavas 
Part 1 up to “one question troubled him…”

8. HOLY MOLY 'Mustard Seed' 3mins 23 [exploring Mark 4: 30-32]

9. Communal SONG “FAITH, HOPE & LOVE” 4mins

10. ‘THE BOY ON THE PAGE’ Part 2 up to “He saved a small animal…”

11. REFLECTION [these are rough notes with one or two extra comments] 
People living how God hopes we would, the Kingdom of God is like a tiny mustard seed
The story tells us it’s planted, like an idea, and grows to be a mustard shrub
In one telling of the story it becomes a big tree where even birds find shelter
[this ancient story conjures images of the Cedars of Lebanon or massive trees the Prophets spoke of]

Another telling gets the humour of saying that BUT meaning a SHRUB or a small BUSH at best
The kind of shrub that grows up amongst other plants in a garden and can take it over.
It encourages us to live our lives, alongside others, as part of communities,
who generously and enthusiastically try to follow Jesus every day.
It’s about making a choice to follow Jesus example and living with God as a priority…
And seeing how a bunch of people, a congregation, can change the world, one act at a time,
But also looking to find where in the community, God is already active and accepting the invitation
to join God’s mission in the world… growing up around people, like shrubs in a variety garden…
Finally, some people would be surprised at who it includes, the birds in the story are fowls,
the undesirable birds, the rejected and disliked… challenging our ideas of who’s ‘in and who’s ‘out’

12. Response ACTIVITY + MUSIC 4 min
You have been given a bean seed you are invited to plant on tissue/cotton wool
[spoke about taking it home and tending to it...
Tend to the plant, watch it grow, transplant it into a garden at home and re-member the Bible story
[background music as people came forward to place their seed in the clip lock bag and take home

13.‘THE BOY ON THE PAGE Part 3 up to “He put out a fire…” 

Invitation to either come to 
- the world globe and use a liquid chalk pen to write a word/mark
- write on gum leaves with marker and place on cloth for those effected by storms this week
- sit and pray, listening to the music
 Played ‘The Head & the Heart’ Another Story inspired by the violence at sandy Hook School

15. READ MATHEW 13: 45-46 
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls;
46 on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

This was one tactile opportunity too many while singing but, write a post it with question,
What’s something you would you give up everything you own for?
OR What's one question you'd ask God?
and/or place monetary offering in the bowl...
Prayer, "God, hear our prayer that we offer what we can, ourselves…"
then SONG #3 “Holy One” includes Offering and Post It Notes

17. ‘THE BOY ON THE PAGE’ Part 4 up to “He knew why he was here” 

18. Read LUKE 13: 20-21
20 And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God?
21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

19. SONG 4 “This Kingdom” 


Ethos and Actions
- That multi-generational worship is possible to do well but needs a variety of ways to engage
- Tactile actions with music for 'space' helps move beyond reliance on words 'to hear God'
- Interpret 'hearing God's word' in the broadest sense beyond a 13 minute sermon
- Invite multiple participants in leading recognising ministry of all ages
- Juxtapose 'The Boy on the Page' storybook alongside understanding our place in the K of G
  and a variety of music for mood alongside prayer actions
- Symbol of Seed to take away so the story allegory challenges ongoing action and reflection
- Free to experiment [throw in lots of different things] to challenge, to inform and inspire
- Experiment to learn for the future

Friday, April 24, 2015

"Letter from a Trench" Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly on Soundcloud
"I wrote and recorded a song last year called "Letter From A Trench" after Sam Worthington sent me a picture. Ross Irwin arranged it and played trumpet. Leah Zweck played viola. John Castle engineered and mixed. Thanks Sam. PK"

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Wind, Rain, Trees, Floods, Lack of Electricity!!

Our electricity has just come back on today!!
120km hour winds, lashing rain, flooding, exploding power lines, houses washed away, lives lost!!
It's been a dreadful week in parts of the Hunter... with much mop up and recovery going on...

From a Uniting Church perspective we have a national and regional framework for 'Disaster Recovery Response' and Chaplaincy will be provided in effected areas BUT there are things any local community of faith can do to help out!!

1. Does your church building or a team of people have electricity?
Put up a sign, organise hospitality [soup and bread or bbq] and offer recharging of electrical devices
Let 1233 Newcastle know...
If another community organisation has already jumped in, then send volunteers to help
In any other plans, seek collaborators from across your community!!
2. The immediate need/opportunity to offer children, youth or family activity days in lieu of school has passed but consider that option for the future... what about pastoral care and connections on Sunday with gathered worship communities...
Chaplaincy will be organised but other relationships can be fostered, even by a carload of visitors who join worship in an effected area, buy lunch locally there and see what needs doing alongside SES etc...
3. Does your church have showers? For this without water hot or cold...
4. Is your church open for prayer offering a creative focus?

Worship/Response Ideas Miscellaneous
a. Prayers with space for silent reflection or simple symbolic actions are helpful at times like these.
Examples might include:
- Lord's Prayer + silence 
- Candles and water may or may not be useful symbols, something like a bucket of gum leaves which can have words or symbols of your prayer written on with black markers could then be left out on a cloth on the table with instrumental or other musical soundtrack
- Contemporary songs like "Below My Feet" Mumford & Sons or "Rest Your Head on My Shoulder" Seeker Lover Keeper offer the right mood
b. Images can overwhelm but can also add reality to a reflection, 
sometimes one poignant image is sufficient
c. There are some further useful worship resources here and some won’t be…
And our own UCA resources general and specific here
d. Take the time to learn the names of people lost or injured so your prayers have purpose and know there’s always someone present who ‘knows someone who knew that person’
e. For settings where Hymns are standard, Rev Peter Oliver offers these creative words for 'How Great Thou Art'

O Lord my God,
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all
The frailty of this earth
We see the stars,
We hear the mighty thunder,
We feel such fear
When nature’s done its worst.

When through our towns
And flooded plains we wander
Some have survived on rooves or in the trees;
When we look down
On what was once such grandeur
And hear the news
Of loved ones’ hopes and pleas;

Then cries my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
“Will this grief pass?
Will this grief pass?”
Then cries my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
“Will this grief pass?
Will this grief pass?”

Pray Christ shall come,
To hearts in devastation.
Help them find homes,
Help mend their broken heart!
Help us to flow Jesus' compassion to this nation.
Help us proclaim
“We pray this grief will pass.”

Then cries our soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
“Help this grief pass.
Help this grief pass.”
Then cries our soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
“Help this grief pass.
Help this grief pass.”

When time has passed, floods of despair are over
and there's a sense this suffering won't be long.
When hope's restored,
When sadness heals with mem’ries
In hea’en, on earth, we will proclaim this song
“Then sings my soul my Saviour God, to Thee
‘How great thou art!
How great thou art!’ ”

There you go, a start, when in fact there are heaps of things that can be done!!

Monday, April 20, 2015

"Rain" Dragon circa 1983

It's that sort of afternoon!! This takes me back to the early 1980s, Dragon with Tommy Emmanuel on guitar at that stage... nailing it at Newcastle Workers Club. Loved this bands music, didn't care much for their carry on in the media or their onstage inebriation. I still can see the late Marc Hunter almost toppling off stage at Newcastle's Mattara Festival [Civic Park] trying to hit an earth print beach ball back into the crowd and unable to hold himself up... great music of it's era nonetheless!!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Radio Rant

Grumpy old man, frustrated potential radio announcer, listener to 'old man' radio... take your pick!!
   I was driving the car and listening to a little bit of ABC radio between bursts of iTunes music yesterday when I was reminded of actor/comedian/author/playwrite/announcer John Doyle's [aka Rampaging Roy Slaven]  'Newcastle Lecture' at the University a few years back. He was at one point talking about the lack of original content in the media. Doyle was lamenting the idea of a production team meeting that consisted of sitting around a few hours ahead the shift, reading the days newspapers to construct content for your program. It's only gotten worse!!
   Yesterday one announcer was asking people about who undertook the Opal card trick of walking between light rail stations at Pyrmont in Sydney. Opal card for regular train travellers offers you free trips in the week after [is it 8 or 10] journeys. It's promoted as 'travel all week, get Friday, Saturday, Sunday for free!! Enjoy city shopping, a tourist spot, travel home to Newcastle to visit your family!!
   A few hundred punters a day are walking back and forwards between stations at Pyrmont to tap on and off for multiple fake journeys. Let's face it if they want to walk 5kms cumulatively [according to newspaper reports] every week, good on them!! It could become the 'Pyrmont Park Run' or start a social club, 'The Pyrmont Trundlers' and in fact I have an idea that the whole thing could end up sponsored by 'That Star Casino' who pay money to 'Events NSW' to cover the lost train travel revenue of the longer weekend trips being taken for free!! Your free trips can be from Tuesday onwards... Straight journeys on different modes of transport are seen as transfers, these are new journeys, so the newspaper journalist, who spoke to trundlers. was explaining in their article!! People are very funny!! This is up there with setting up a picnic or fake flat tyre or dancing naked infront of the RTA mobile vehicle speed cameras so prevalent in the Upper Hunter!!
   I guess in this case it's legitimate for a radio station to cover an emerging story, trouble is I rarely hear the source credited as the Fairfax or News media in these cases.
   The second instance was a conversation starter about various trends in corporate team building culture e.g. paint ball, trekking, fitness sessions, drumming workshops... or corporate soccer tournaments where participants wear individual zorb balls to counter against skills and injury. What trend in this have you participated in, asked the announcer? This was a page 7 or so article in the SMH yesterday!!
   As I thought about this content it reminded of my other radio gripes... guest sports 'reporters' who give listeners and often less informed announcers a round up of the happenings in sport and sometimes an emerging issue for discussion. Insights into player welfare and mindset or their background are given. Little nuggets of previously unknown aspects to a story or the 'what was really said' angle are pursued. Only trouble is, I read the SMH, Tele and local Herald every day... I have read those insider, confidante, 'I've got the real story' pieces in the paper over the preceding week!! Even sometimes the guest presenter canvases the larger issues in all this, expressing an insight into what might have led a player to do what they've done... coming down on one side of the discussion or the other, only to reveal they obviously didn't read the follow up articles in the paper the following day which offers evidence that the other side of the debate might win 'on the facts' gathered by the author of the story!!
   OK, how does  regional sports enthusiast be 'everywhere' and do all the work to gain these stories? I get it, you need to rely on someone else's reporting of a press conference, you can't have one to one chats with the Todd Carney's of the world every week... BUT you could acknowledge where you'd read or heard your revelation first before claiming at your own insight by omission!!
   I know, it's distilling a wide variety of sports, events and information for a listening audience who can't be across all sport in that kind of detail... fine, just own up to the fact you didn't speak to Kevin Pietersen to get his take on the England Cricket Team. Robert Craddock did and here's what he thought about it all!!
   Don't get me started about 'Australia All Over' a grand gesture, a terrific idea and something to celebrated as a sharing of everyday Aussie places, stories and weather!! A sprawling snapshot of traditional Aussie values, ethos and characters. A rejection of change for the worse and an eschewing of technology, modern plastic culture, overseas ownership, cheap products...
   Except it can't help but embrace the technology it lampoons, ignore the richness of a multi-cultural country we have the potential to become and in broader terms participate in the holding down in poverty of third world countries who seemingly aren't allowed the opportunity we've had to develop industry.
   Yes 'free trade agreements' penalise Australia, it is a shame you can't get a metal zipper in a pair of tailored pants replaced at the local shop and imported fruit and veg, meat and grains seems crazy when local producers are being strangled by supermarket duopolies demanding pristine bananans or 'down down' prices on milk.
   Am I the only one who doesn't get the irony or playing the 'Technology' song and then inviting people to email or Facebook post about it? The program is and has for years been a free to air radio version of Dick Smith Beetroot!!
Ok, I feel ready too face the day now!!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Richie Benaud

Richie Benaud... synonymous with Australia's summer of cricket as well as Ashes radio every four years mid winter... Superb learner transitioning from successful attacking Captain to the Media. Great exponent of letting silence tell the story, adding colour to the coverage rather than verbosity.

   I will curse the radio/TV sound delay even more fervently next summer!! An advocate for the players, for level headed appropriate critique or silence amidst hysteria.
   Adaptable for professionalism, shorter forms, appropriately critical of underarm, siding with the game without getting carried away about the 'Gen Y' attitude or the thickness of new timber bats.        
   Able to tell an anecdote without it dominating the coverage. Indeed exactly the kind of older bloke you need around in a time of constant change and transition.
   My fav. blooper is still his State Game One Dayer commentary the day the temporary lights stands were operational at Adelaide Oval. He was exuberant about the utility they added to an historic oval proclaiming them an unique engineering marvel apparently "30 minutes to full erection"... followed by ten long seconds of silence, with audible giggling from the back of the commentary box. Marvellous effort that!!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Florence + the Machine "Ship to Wreck"

Florence + The Machine "St Jude"

It's a 'Florence' kind of afternoon with some new music coming out and whole album not too far off...

“St Jude” Florence + the Machine
Another conversation with no destination
Another battle; never won
And each side is a loser
So who cares who fired the gun?

And I'm learning, so I'm leaving
And even though I'm grieving
I'm trying to find the meaning
Let loss reveal it
Let loss reveal it

St. Jude, the patron saint of the lost causes
St. Jude, we were lost before she started
St. Jude, we lay in bed as she whipped around us
St. Jude, maybe I've always been more comfortable in chaos

And I was on the island and you were there too
But somehow through the storm I couldn't get to you
St. Jude; somehow she knew
And she came to give her blessing while causing devastation
And I couldn't keep my mouth shut, I just had to mention
Grabbing your attention 
St. Jude...

[Pre-Chorus x2]