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

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