Enchantment in Worship

I’m spending a day locked in a retreat house reading for the research I’m doing into liturgy and culture. A decade ago Keith F Pecklers SJ gave a call to greater liturgical formation for the ‘future of Christianity’ as he looked at worshipping in a postmodern world.

Liturgy in the postmodern world must aim for enchantment, not entertainment… If presiders are to be effective instruments in the enchantment of their congregations gathered together in holy assembly, the churches will need to recognise the fact that presiding is a craft to be learnt; it does not come with the grace of ordination. (p199 Worship)

I wonder what delights I will discover at the ‘Worship Transforming Communities’ conference next week. I’m looking forward to continuing the discussions I’ve been having with colleagues about liturgical formation. #worship2013

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Greenbelt 2012 – U2charist

As you probably know, Ruth and I are involved in a couple of services at Greenbelt this year.  We’ve had details confirmed about when the U2charist will be happening.  It is going to be in the “InSense” venue at 5pm on Monday.  The worship is being organised by Luminous in Lincoln.  Metanoia will be leading the musical aspects of the service with a selection of U2 songs.

It’ll be great to see you there!

Under Pressure Intercessions

This is a set of intercessions based upon the Queen and Bowie song Under Pressure.

Blesséd Liturgy from Greenbelt

Fr Simon has made all of the resources used for the Blesséd Eucharist at Greenbelt publicly available here.  It was great to be asked to be involved with the music!!

Fresh Expressions and The Sacraments

The May edition of e-expressions has an interesting piece from Bishop Graham Cray about the place of communion within a Fresh Expression of Church.  He highlights the defining characteristics of a church as:

One of the ways by which we can recognize whether something is church, is whether ‘the Word and the Sacraments’ are present. Scripture is studied, so that disciples can understand what Jesus wants them to know and do, and act accordingly. Communion is celebrated to rehearse what Jesus has accomplished and set our eyes, minds and hearts on his coming kingdom. If a fresh expression is really church it will develop to a stage where Holy Communion (under whatever name a tradition uses) is part of its regular pattern of worship and discipleship. This is for the most basic of reasons. Jesus told us to share bread and wine in this way in remembrance of him. It’s that simple!

This has been an area that has caused concern for any form of innovative worship within a church that is catholic in nature like the Church of England.  It seems that whenever the Anglican church tries to engage with new groups of people one of the first things that is removed from an act of corporate worship is the sacrament.  This can be seen historically in the Family Service movement throughout the last century or more recently in the alt worship scene.  It is an area that I looked into as part of my MA dissertation as I explored the way in which the Church of England is engaging with alt. worship.  At the time there was little in the way of sacrament within most Fresh Expressions of Church and the question of presidency is a sticking point for many in a variety of traditions.

Many denominations are involved in planting fresh expressions and not all of them require an ordained minister to preside, but many do.

Previously there has been no truly satisfactory solution postulated.  Bishop Graham suggests some ideas.

The leader or leaders of a fresh expression are not necessarily the ones who should preside. Leading the mission and the mission community are not the same thing as leading worship. An ordained minister can relate to a fresh expression, attend when they can without having to take responsibility and then act as a key link to the wider church when they preside. There needs to be a real connection between fresh expressions and the rest of the Church and this could strengthen it. When a fresh expression is linked in to a more traditional local church or group of churches it is possible to have a celebration of communion at one church, including, in its turn, the fresh expression and then each of the others has representatives who take the bread and wine to the other churches in the team. Churches in a more catholic tradition would be happy to use the reserved sacrament.

I suggest that we are at the beginning of the journey into fresh expressions.  This is a starting place will have to look at the theological implications of the movement as it develops.  We look towards christian unity and as we do this it is important that we foster links between the church historic and fresh expressions.  At the last supper Jesus instituted a meal that was a sign of the inclusive nature of God who invites humanity to eat with him.  It is a tragedy that many church structures turn this meal into a sign of division.  With that in mind it is good that the issue is being explored as we move forward as a mixed economy church.

Each fresh expression needs to find a way forward that is appropriate to its own cultural and denominational tradition and it is the responsibility of the leaders of each denomination to address real issues being raised by innovative mission. This is not a time for breaking the rules, but it time to ensure that new Christian communities can be fed by both Word and Sacrament!

ASBO Jesus Rocks!!

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Jon from ASBO Jesus posted on my Facebook wall saying “I’ve done an ASBO portrait of you”. I spent an hour or so looking for enough Internet connectivity to have a look.

Wealth and fame, a Jedi craves not these things!

(hope this works, I’m next to Hadrian’s wall using my phone to try and post this)

Self Service

Jon at ASBOJesus so often manages to identify the big issues around us and point a million watt light at them.  Here he has so succinctly juxtaposed the society in which we live and the way our world works with the ancient symbols of faith. 

As a Church we are at a fascinating point in history.  In the last fifty years the world has changed drastically.  We are experiencing the beginnings of a paradigm shift.  The world is changing.  Technology is altering the way in which people interact with each other.  We are becoming more consumer oriented as a society.  People work out quickly what is of worth to them and decide whether to buy into it or not within a relatively short period of time. 

As we are working out how we can follow the way and speak authentically in the modern world it is important that we don’t mimic the world at the expense of the faith.