this is worship before a full day workshop i’m leading on alt worship next thursday.
i’m doing stations during worship. no surprise there, i know… i use stations a lot for worship at workshops. This is for a number of reasons…
– if i’m the only one leading (which happens a lot during the week, especially in situations like this, where it’s worship at the beginning of a workshop i’m running), it models far more clearly devolved leadership which is something we always talk about in worship
– they just seem to work better when it’s a group that don’t know each other, and who i don’t know. one day i’ll do some serious thinking about why that’s the case…
and, purely pragmatically:
– i’m an introvert. if i have to do upfront leadership for a worship, then lead a workshop afterwards, by the end of the day i’m non-functional.
– stations give me a chance to get a ‘feel’ for the group. i don’t analyse their participation during worship, it’s much more intuitive than that, i just get to ‘absorb’ the nature of the group, if i can sit inside it, rather than be leading it. i’ve learnt that the first session of a workshop runs much better, from my end, if i’ve done stations rather than up front leadership.
so, the lectionary reading is Mark 4:26-39. i think there’s enough to work with the first parable… Gods kingdom is like what happens when a farmer scatters seed in a field.
there’ll be four stations, and one meditative loop for the ‘in between’ moments when people just want to kick back. the workshop has 25 people coming, so there’ll need to be space around each station. if i can think of another one, that would be even better…
station 1: dirt… we always focus on the seeds in this parable, let’s give the dirt its due. the kingdom grows out of the dirt of the world… there’ll be a reflection asking where we need to get our hands dirty… what would we wash our hands of, rather than get immersed in… we’ll have a large pile of dirt on the floor, etc. etc. (which links in nicely with some stuff from the complex christ which we’ll be talking about in the workshop later… )
station 2: dirt again… but this time thinking about the composition of soil, and how we can know in explicit detail what the best form of dirt is, but that isn’t enough to grow the seed. god is the life beyond all life, the life within all life, the life that gives birth to all life… the kingdom is not of our making… the wonder of it all…
station 3: video loop of seeds growing, with, behind it, stories from the world that are in desperate need of god’s kingdom… some kind of ‘prayer for others’ act.
station 4: keeping going. commitment and assurance when the kingdom seems too hard… video loop of cells in plants. prayers for the situations where it seems too hard to imagine god’s kingdom being given life.
i want to keep the worship uncomplicated, and low tech – partly to show that alt worship isn’t reliant on technology. for practical reasons, many of the ‘examples’ i use in the workshop will be multimedia based, and it’s helpful for people to have another model to remember later.
i have ‘justice’, ‘love’, ‘peace’ and ‘hope’ growing on my window sill at home… well, mustard seeds planted in the shape of the words anyway… attempts to do timelapse movie of that happening were thwarted, but i’ll use them to create the space anyway. much of my thinking about this worship has happened in the whole process of preparing the soil, planting the seeds, worrying about the amount of light / water / warmth / drainage, etc. – and then, in spite of having all of those things in the wrong balance, watching them sprout this morning. maybe mustard seeds are the illustration in the next story because they’re so resilient. it takes a lot to keep god’s kingdom down.