i'm recovering from leading chapel today on mark 7 - called it, you guessed it - "living with dirt". here are some of the bits and pieces...
i put a bunch of signs outside and inside - WIPE YOUR FEET, WASH YOUR HANDS (we had bowls), SIT UP STRAIGHT, NO TALKING, etc etc. The communion table had yellow CAUTION tape (from Bunnings) around it (idea from cheryl).
when people entered i had a movie loop of a ink drop into clear water (from istockphoto.com I think....., as was the hands photo) music was "you will find" from "fractured, broken and beautiful" by dubh - brilliant album available from proost.
call to worship based on psalm 24. invited to people to stand and look out the window, look at each other, look within themselves. each time i said:
“This world and everything in it belongs to God.”
Do you see God’s presence?
then a gathering this still drawing on the psalm (it was rather long...........)
Who can step into the place where God is present?
We can, if our hands are clean.
We can, if our hearts are pure.
Who can receive God’s blessings
We can, if we’ve never lied.
We can, if our worship is true.
If we are here to worship God,
then God’s requirements seem pretty clear:
those of us who live right by God
and by neighbour will receive blessing
and freedom from the God of salvation.
So who is willing to step into the place where God is present?
The house of the God of Moses the murderer,
of David the adulterer, of Jacob the deceiver,
of them and their tribes?
We do. We come to the place of worship.
We come with our half-truths,
our well-hidden thoughts,
our lame excuses,
our over-heated desires,
our neglected obligations,
our inflated promises.
And still we hope to commune with God.
We are a company of sinners
hoping to sing a saintly song of praise
to a God who is always here
and always absent at the same time.
If God was really here in our midst
as a holy and fiery presence
we’d be taking off our shoes, shaking off the dust,
falling on our knees, and burying our faces.
Or perhaps jumping in the air,
throwing off our chains,
yelling to the sky,
and weeping out loud.
All of this is hard to believe:
This is God’s place.
and we are God’s people.
Who is invited here?
No-one and everyone.
Who does God accept?
None of us and all of us.
We’re all welcome
at the dinner table
of refugees and prime ministers
and sweatshop stitchers and bank managers
of sunday preachers and street sleepers.
So lets lift up our heads.
Lets open up the doors.
Let’s listen and hope.
Someone is coming!
Someone strong to protect.
Someone willing to give birth.
Someone who lifts us up
Someone who deeply knows us.
Who is coming?
Some say “King of Glory”
Some say “Prince of Peace”
Some say “Mother of Creation”
Some say “Messiah”
Some say “Redeemer”
Some say “The Christ”
Open up the gates
welcome the God of hosts
and be welcome yourself in this place.
People were invited to light a candle in front of the cross on their way back to their places around the table as a sign of thanks and praise. we played andy bromley's version of "did you hear the mountains tremble?" (trying to use some more well-known christian music at the moment for a few reasons...)
The Mark 7 reading was done with multiple voices, then i screened the silent movie version that my youth group has made for church this coming sunday. i'd love to show it but all on-screen are under 18 and i don't have permission.... yet... music: scott joplin's maple leaf rag!
the sermon talked about keeping secrets and referred to the PostSecret project, talked about Jesus' debate about what was clean and what wasn't, told some personal 'secret' stories, talked about the church as a community where secrets can be told, talked about revelation and hiddenness, and talked about whether grace is a trickle or a flood, and talked about food....
i had stuck "postsecrets" around the room (bought a book and cut it up - i do it all the time...) people read them while i played "rubber and soul" by ane brun from "temporary dive". then people stood in front of a postcard and offered a silent prayer of intercession.
sandy boyce was the "magic fingers" for communion, which we co-led.
The Risen Christ invites you to this feast
not because you are faithful
but because you hope to know the faithful One
not because you are loving
but because you desire the touch of the compassionate One
not because you are holy
but because you wish to know One who is truly good
not because you are wise
but because you seek to follow the One who is the Way, Truth and the Life
Who can gather at the table of the Lord?
All who seek God
who wish for firmer faith, deeper hope, and lasting peace.
Who can gather at the table of the Lord?
All who wish to receive mercy and healing.
Through Jesus Christ, God removes all barriers between us.
What might happen if the barriers between us and God,
the divisions between people, were truly removed?
Today we invoke God’s restless Spirit
so that the we might become
the liberating, reconciling, body of Christ.
So come to the table if you dare,
for all are welcome here,
and anything might happen.
etc etc. we liturgically cut the CAUTION tape around the communion table.
God who creates, redeems and sustains us
Who you are in you very being is community
Three-in-One and One-in-Three
From time immemorial you have existed
in a true communion of self-giving love
By nature you generate life -
Your love poured out across the cosmos
in a myriad of stars and planets,
and in the shaping of this world
Your creative energy formed all that we know
and daily sustains us with generous care.
Who are we that you should love us so?
Throughout history human beings
have constantly distorted your gift of stewardship.
choosing domination over co-existence.
We have abused both your world and our neighbours
with coercive power rather than co-operative respect
We have sought to subsume and consume
with disregard for your creative purpose.
In Jesus the Christ we encountered
one who treated Creation with true dignity
who demonstrated the integrity of God
and the humble servanthood of humanity.
We have seen in his story the compassion of God
We have heard in his words the wisdom of God
We have discovered in his dying and rising the hope from God
during communion andrew dutney sang his song "jesus wasn't very picky" which was recorded for the "big things, little things" CD (UCA Belonging Kit - resources for baptism and confirmation)
then some other stuff adapted from Iona.
at the end i played an incense movie loop from proost with "each moment new" by lou rhodes from the album "beloved one". not sure if people 'got it' but the white smoke rising was the opposite of the black ink falling at the start of the service. as the song was playing i started to strip the various "do and dont" signs from the church.
lots of good comments afterwards and i was emotionally drained from some of the personal stuff in the sermon.