a bit of a marathon the last 48 hours for the holy week chapel service at college. i decided to black out the chapel again - 2 long rolls of black plastic and 1 1/2 hours later i wondered why i did it..... (next time I'll just preach a sermon...)
the theme was "hoping in darkness", using passages about "light" from the Gospel of John, poetry by Australians Les Murray and Kevin Hart,a range of recorded music and a new song performed live by our own Andrew Dutney about loss. I shamelessly recycled some artefacts from "The Landscape of Desire".
There are times when the story of our lives
takes an unexpected turn
A new chapter that throws us off-balance
a turn of events that leaves us stumbling
bewildered, frightened, and speechless
a shocking, unexpected loss
a close relationship shattered
a bitter reality revealed
an undeserved fall from grace
A time when all our beliefs
are called into question
when friendships turn fickle
when every choice feels like a dead-end
when truth itself is played like a chess piece
There are times when the story of our lives
pauses at a blank page
and there seems nothing to write
nowhere to go next
no-one to tell
and no-one who cares
We all know times like these
we all carry their memory in our hearts
Today we gather
in order to remember such a story
of a week in which promise and betrayal,
wild expectation and deep despair,
firm friendship and fierce denial
go hand in hand.
In this time between Palm Sunday and the Passion
amidst cries of welcome and calls for execution
we place ourselves alongside the disciples of Jesus
who knew him well, who chose to flee
Today we remind ourselves
of the unpredictable journey of those days
Let us step into the twilight of this story
trusting that light will be shed on the shadows of our own lives
hoping that things left buried might stir from their graves
and stumble toward a new dawn
What longings and yearnings to you bring to this Easter journey?
What temptations and betrayals might test your heart?
we invite you to glimpse and listen and touch and taste,
to allow your senses to be windows to a story
waiting to be written on your heart, mind and soul.
Let us accompany one another into this place
where promises will be broken
where truth will be compromised
where tears will flow
where a kiss means death
May we not look for an easy way out of this eventide
but learn to wait, to watch, to listen
to hope that that the night might reveal what the daytime conceals.
The perspex light box from "The Landscape of Desire" contained an amazing sculpture from our chapel of Jesus with outstretched arms. Text was John 1:1-13 along with the Kevin Hart Poem "To Christ Our Lord". An opportunity to contemplate the obscured figure beckoning to us and our hopes for what he might bring to our world.
A path of gravel led up to the cross, and people were invited to walk it barefoot, and carry a 20kg sandbag if they wished.Text was John 12:23-32, and Les Murray's poem "Easter 1984" was stuck to the Cross. An opportunity for contemplation and confession.
The Gospel of John DVD played from Palm Sunday on (no sound) with the opportunity for people to make prayers of praise with magnetic poetry. Text was John 3:16-21.
We have two windows made of square and rectangular blocks of glass. On one I stuck a range of colour images of the face of Jesus printed on translucent paper (vellum) along with John 8:12-19 and a kneeling prayer rail from the chapel. Next to the other window I put John 12:30-37, 44-47, coloured translucent paper, coloured pens and sticky tape, with the invitation for people to contribute to our own stained glass window.
The other station had Les Murray's poem "An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow" along with a looped video of Robin Williams weeping from "The Fisher King", playing on my iPhone stuck inside a black box with just the screen showing (thanks mike and cheryl for whoever's idea this first was), a baptismal font in which people were invited to place their hands and then touch their cheeks with the waters of Christ's suffering, black cloth and silver pens for people to write prayers for the world for which Christ weeps, and then tie them to a wire bed frame. Clearly an opportunity for intercession.
music playing from "Happiness" by Jonsi & Alex from "Riceboy Sleeps", "Hurt" by Jonny Cash, "The Other Side of Night" from the Solomon's Porch album "Invite Us", and "White as Snow" by U2 from "No Line on the Horizon.
steve was the celebrant for communion, and the liturgy allowed the whole community to participate in the words normally said by the celebrant. steve led this part extremely well, as well as a great extempore prayer.
Why have we gathered here?
We come because we have been called
to live out a story
What story shall we live?
The story of saving love
Where did this story begin?
It was whispered before time began,
it was sung in the melody of Creation.
Whose story is this?
This story is God’s alone to tell
It hums in the rivers and the trees
It whispers in the skies and the seas
It calls to the people of all places
It speaks in our hearts, in our lives
Why then should we speak of this story?
This story calls our name in Creation
This story claims our lives through the Cross
This story shapes our future through the Spirit
We are its telling in this time and this place
So tell me the story of this night, of this table
The Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed
took bread, and when he had given thanks,
he broke it
(taking and breaking bread)
Tell me what he said and did
This is my body which is broken for you
Do this and remember me
Tell me what he said and did
(taking and pouring cup)
In the same way, he took the cup and said
This is a new covenant in my blood
Drink it and remember me
This is our common story
our deep memory, our true destiny
So let it also be our story-telling, our testimony
Let’s celebrate the way that grace has shaped our lives
I invite you to say aloud a prayer of thanks
Hear the storytellers of all ages whisper with us
Holy. holy, holy Lord
God of power and might
heaven and earth are full of your glory
Hosanna in the highest
Blessed in the one who comes in the name of the Lord
Hosanna in the highest
What is our prayer on this day?
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us
So this everyday meal becomes an eternal feast
So that our eating and drinking today
unites us with Christ,
whose body and blood are given for us.
So we know that you live in us
and that we live in you
So that we live in your world
knowing it is indeed yours.
Living God, this is our prayer
We were seated at tabletops flat on the floor on low cushions borrowed from the pews at my church.
(read early in the service, after Isaiah 9:3-7)
I was in darkness
then you came searching, looking on earth
for someone who was tired of earth.
I saw you watching,
stained with the heart’s colour, the wounded kingfisher;
I was a nest
built of old, stolen things, hidden amongst thorns,
you sought me out
and made your home in me.
Let the sunlight grow upon the rocks,
for I was cold
until I felt your touch. I was the coldest stone
before I saw you rise in rising hands.
I was blind as stone
and you have made me into your eye.
Let the compass needle spin
until it points to you; I was the long silence
before your name is uttered,
I was your ink
and you have written me into your name.
And let the road
lead back into the twisted world,
let it make a cross with every other road,
and let the sleeping child
continue to breathe his father’s breath.
we sang part of "o come o come emmanuel", "all that is hidden" by bernadette farrell, and a slightly adapted version of "what it this scene?" by david froemming and leigh newton. the bit of music that got the most comment was william ackerman's wonderful guitar version of "o come o come emmanuel" from one of the windham hill albums.
as usual i was too busy to think about taking photos. sorry. it was dark anyway...
we did have a unplanned drama just before the service when my external portable hard disk with all of the music decided that it was corrupted, and couldnt be repaired by the Mac OS. so we started chapel 15 mins late by the time i'd fixed it.
i think it went well, some very appreciative comments afterwards. one of my main questions is about inviting people into a story with several parts, so to speak. the texts here were thematic (light in John's gospel), whereas the narratives of holy week have their own structure and intent in each of the Gospels. i think that the cognitive aspect of this service was perhaps less cohesive than a coherent narrative might have been. however the sensory aspects of the stations were designed to allow a different and varied kind of entry into the theme. i need to think some more about this, as in many ways it was thrown together from a bunch of bits. i keep thinking of other ways that the narrative thread of the experience might have focussed more clearly and deeply on loss, grief and bereavement - but that's pretty tough territory for a 45 minute eucharist! (OK, I went overtime)
thanks Craig. I've blogged a bit about this on my site - the q/a approach to communion reminded me of the jewish passover tradition and one I found very helpful,
Posted by: steve | April 01, 2010 at 02:42 PM
These are beautiful words Craig, thanks for sharing them, and I think the Esther Project may end up borrowing them at some stage!
Hope you have had a good Easter.
Posted by: Michelle | April 05, 2010 at 01:35 PM
There is something very powerful about the echo of Advent that 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel' evokes; a reminder of the reason for Jesus's birth. Could you let me know which album the track you played came from.
Posted by: Mark Newitt | April 21, 2010 at 01:38 AM
mark, just realised i hadn't responded! the "emmanuel" was solo guitar by william ackerman from the album "The Carols of Christmas".
Posted by: craigmitchell | June 22, 2010 at 11:51 AM
Thanks Craig. Thanks also for the introduction to Will Ackerman whose music has now featured in a couple of services I've curated.
Posted by: Mark Newitt | June 28, 2010 at 10:18 PM