In this morning's worship at Myrtleford we had a visit from Christina Rowntree, the Artfull Faith Coordinator from the Uniting Church Centre for Theology and Ministry in Melbourne. A variety of CTM staff participated in worship this morning in a number of congregations across our presbytery, after being up here for an educational event called Wisdom's Feast.
During the week, Christina and I plotted and planned something a little bit different and creative for our worship, which was held in the church hall, inviting people to engage with various works of art, readings and symbols, as we moved through various 'stations' of the worship space.
Station 1 - Gathered around Paschal Candle in entrance to worship space:
Call to Worship and Gathering Prayer, based on Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35.
Song: TIS 111 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation
Station 2 - Centre of the hall, facing the pulpit, and a screen behind:
A continuous loop of images of art depicting the Ascension was projected onto the screen.
People were given the text of Acts 1:6-14 to read in supported silence (with some gentle background music)
I gave a brief reflection on the reading
Act of confession- seeking forgiveness for looking for Jesus in the wrong places, and failing to see him in ourselves and each other (through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit- see Acts 1:8, 10-11).
Taize chant: Jesus remember me, when you come into your kingdom
As people moved to the next station, they were invited to walk behind the pulpit and look inside it (where there was a mirror), and think of the significance of this- of the pulpit being a place where the Word is proclaimed, and that the Word is not a book, but Christ. Where is the Word/Christ now? What do they see in the pulpit?
Station 3 - 'Suffering and intercession'.
1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11 was read aloud by the Elder. People were invited to gaze upon the image of Picasso's Weeping Woman, and a photograph of the earth taken from space, as they formulated their own prayers for the world, and wrote them on pieces of coloured paper.
Some poems and music were used for inspiration.
When the prayers were written, they were pegged onto the wall, as we sang together the Taize chant: O Lord hear my prayer.
Station 4 - Preparing to go back into the world
Focus on table, covered in white cloth, with many candles, and a print of Chris Neild's Man of Sorrows in front.
Two tapers are lit from the Paschal candle, and as the Elder reads John 17:1-11 (with strategic pauses), each time the word 'glory/glorify' is read, two candles are lit, until all the candles on the table are alight at the end of the reading.
The people are invited to contemplate the question: "What is glory?" as they listen to the reading and gaze on the image and the candles.
A period of very profound silence ensued.
Station 5 - around the Paschal Candle- facing outwards towards the exit
Song - TIS 613 Lord of all hopefulness Lord of all joy
Christina and I pronounced a blessing
Benediction- A Christmas Blessing