I was in Benalla yesterday, a country town a few hours north of Melbourne. I was leading worship for a group at the Uniting Church last night, and then staying for dinner and a conversation. It’s not the sort of gig I normally do, but Benalla has a fabulous art gallery, I like the people i know from Benalla, and every now and again it’s good to get out of Melbourne…
The reason I don’t do this very often is that it’s a really artificial way to work with a group of people. As I said to the group last night, I do this for a living, it’s my obsession. I have access to a stack of resources, and i’ve learnt to use them. I’m also good at making worship work – but i got good at it through years of being mediocre. I started – like most people – by stealing ideas, then tweaking them a little, and then having the courage to do stuff on my own. Sometimes – quite often, in fact – i do stuff that’s crap, just rarely at places like Benalla. It’s a fine line between offering something that will be inspirational, and offering something that’s intimidating.
Anyway… after taste-testing themes for weeks, going through the normal ‘i’ve had my last idea ever’ dramas [yes, the people who love me are very patient], something finally came together last week. I was thinking about advent being the time of waiting – a pregnant moment – so I took the definitions of the word ‘pregnant’ from the dictionary and made stations for each of them. It would work really well as a straight service, split into five sections, rather than stations, but when it’s just me leading stuff it’s much easier to set up stations.
I’ll put the stations up in the next post. I’m anxious about posting them – pregnancy and birth are such raw topics to use in public worship. I try to be so careful with this, and I still get it very wrong. I did something last week that really hurt someone – it was absolutely unintentional [which they knew, but it doesn’t make it any easier]; a confluence of events where some language and imagery we were using hit a very raw nerve. I understand much more now why people avoid doing things that connect to personal issues in worship. I’m pretty tempted to do so myself. We hold such power, doing things like this, and the invitation to vulnerability can come at a great cost.