emerge – ncyc worship

Thanks so much to Mike for sending through photos – there are many more here.

This is a brief rundown of the space we did at NCYC last week. The theme for the day was ’emerge’, and the bible passage was Mark 8:27-30 [‘Who do you say I am?]. The worship throughout NCYC had a watery kind of theme, so we carried that through our spaces too…

[the post gets very long, so i’ve split it!]

Outside, in the amphitheatre, we wrote the bible passage onto the concrete in a labyrinth kind of fashion, and ended in a space where people could add their own response to the ‘who do you say I am’ question.

[don’t blame Mike for the quality of that photo! i took it on my phone]

Near there we set up four plinths with bowls on top.

The plinths were painted with blackboard paint, and Claire wrote the words to the station on the side:


Perhaps for you today
the water is muddy
and you have no idea who Jesus is
and what this is about.

If nothing seems clear anymore
and it’s like you’re stuck,
unable to see where you’re going,
unable to see where you are –

stay here a while.

Write your questions into the mud.

[clear water]

Perhaps today it all seems possible.

If you can look into the eyes of Christ
and know who he is
and who you are,

stay here a while.

Dip your finger in the water
and make the sign of a cross on your hand


Perhaps today this all just seems too hard.

If faith demands an answer you don’t have
and the questions have sharp edges
that cut into your skin
as you tumble against them
down the fast flowing river
of life,

stay here a while.

Hold a rock,
let its edges dig into your skin,

and make your prayer or protest to God


Perhaps today is filled with tears
– of grief for yourself
or despair for the world.

If life and faith seems fragile and precarious,
stay here a while.

Add some salt to the water.

Know that your tears are God’s as well

In Cafe Praxis we projected an image onto the wall of hands holding water which reflected a face. Each table had two bowls, each of which had words, on transparencies; one with the bible passage, the other with the following:

The questions God asks are rarely easy, and most of them take a lifetime to answer.

What’s the question God is asking you at the moment?

Write it onto a piece of card and add it to those underneath the image on the wall.

In the foyers, we had ipods playing the same loop of splashing water, but each had a different word, used to describe Jesus, that showed when the water splashed onto it: fraud?, saviour?, teacher?, lamb of God?, heretic?, friend?… Downstairs we had a still from each of the movies, printed large, lining the wall. We included some water poetry.

The Gaza prayer space was a last minute addition, and as is the way of these things, one of the most remarkable spaces. We discovered we had access to the hall just a day or two before the worship, and when Bindy and I went to look at it we realised that there were panels along one wall that had little slots in them, which made it absolutely perfect to be turned into a wailing wall… One tradition at the wailing wall in Jerusalem is that people post their prayers into its cracks; instead we put images into the cracks and invited people to take them with them, to use as a reminder to pray for the conflict in Gaza. We laid out newspapers and pens in the centre of the room for people to write prayers, or invited people to stay silent in the space.

[there were 1400 images stuck into the cracks… thank God for the devoted team of adult volunteers who did that for us…]

In the performance stairs,
we [well, Mike] suspended a large branch from a gum tree, and set up a scaffold with 7 tv’s and dvd’s, and showed different loops of rushing water and river [taken from Planet Earth]. Sam, along with a few helpers, tied 1100 tags onto twigs…

We wrote onto the windows by the stairs with window chalk:

Water has the power to carve valleys out of mountains.
It has the force to shape the landscape of the world.
It’s terrifying and exhilarating, fierce and beautiful.

If we have the courage to ride this particular river
– to jump into this faith that we’ve talked about this week –
then at times it’s going to feel like we’re tumbling,
like we’re being pummelled and shaped;
like we are at the mercy of the water.

It can be a wild ride, an adventure
or it can feel like it’s dragging us under,
that we are no longer able to breathe.

So, if you need it, here’s a branch…

and onto the twigs:

In this space – and in every moment – you have a choice:

grab the branch, pull yourself out of the river
climb to the side and get re-oriented;

grab the branch, take a breath,
launch back in and let the river take you where it will…

The auditorium was the only place where we gathered people for a communal ‘moment’. It could seat about 600 people, so we had a 15 minute presentation in there that we offered three times.

We put a small corrugated iron tank under the screen, and used a section from Rabbit Proof Fence [where Daisy and Grace are crossing the desert] along with some voiceover stuff that included these words:

They make it sound so simple.
God asks ‘who do you say I am’
I respond –

and then life goes on.

But that’s not how it works.

Sometimes it seems that everyone else is singing songs of joy and hope
and drinking from some well of living water –

‘Come here,’ they say ‘it’s cool’
I can see where they’re calling from
but when I get there
the tank is filled only with sand.

For a while I can carry on –
sing the songs
say the prayers

until one day
I have to admit to myself
that it’s just dry

and I’m parched.

I’ve long forgotten who God is.
I no longer seem to know myself.

Voice 2:
Faith is not always knowing.

It’s not always knowing where the water is.

Sometimes it’s letting yourself be thirsty.
Sometimes it’s letting yourself be lost.

It’s having the courage to wait where it’s parched,
and to let that be enough.

When the clip had finished, the following was written onto the screen:

What do you thirst for?
What is your prayer?

Rip it into the sandpaper
and when you’re ready, and if you would like, bring it to the front and put it into the tank. If you’re able, do this in silence.

If you don’t know what your prayer or your thirst is yet, take the sandpaper with you. Make your prayer later in the week.

Then a blessing written on the screen:

Go in peace.

If you can find no peace here,
then go knowing you’re not alone.


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