Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Unpacking the Prism offer

Well, Glen has created a new compound noun - Prism-Style-Worship (I'm not sure I'd go for capitals there, Glen; sounds like you're shouting!) - and raised two really interesting points (see the comments on the previous post).

I think prism-style-worship taps into Christian tradition and practice through story telling and ritual acts. The Sunday morning communion is a case in point. our celebration of the Eucharist happened in three parts. The first involved cake with individual wine glasses stuck in it and as we sat around the tables we told stories of when Jesus partied, when he was guest at a dinner or host; what he did and what he said on those occasions.

So people spontaneously told the story of the wedding at Cana, the feeding of the five thousand, the tea with Zacchaeus, the bread breaking at Emmaus and many more. We shared how we felt when we heard such stories, what they meant to us, what they revealed to us about Jesus and why we want to follow him.

Then we produced a French loaf nailed to a plank of wood and invited people to share stories of Jesus' journey to Jerusalem, from Palm Sunday, through Maundy Thursday to Good Friday, stories of adulation and rejection, bonhomie and betrayal, friendship and fearful denial; and ultimately stories of the lonely death of the one who more than any other revealed God to us.

The contrast between the cake and the loaf caused a sharp intake of breath among a number of people around the table, even some tears. It was a stark reminder of the meaning of the meal. The stories of Jesus' suffering seem to be given context by the ritual, something tactile and visual, even visceral, was entered into our memory and story telling. And it was powerful.

In the course of these two sections - lasting about an hour, probably slightly less - worshippers were exposed to more scripture than the average church goer gets in a month. Not only that, there was opportunity to reflect on that scripture and extract reactions and responses to it.

This is just a single example of how this approach to constructing a gathering enables people to interact with one another and the Christian story at quite a deep level.

Because prismstyleworship (see I've now made a single word of it) is interactive and participatory, those engaging in it are able to ask questions, seek clarification, add insights, unwrap, probe and explore a single thought at length, write something down, draw or paint a response or reflection. The learning that happens in such a context is likely to be more lasting than that gained from just listening.

I think it ought to be an essential part of the mix of activities we offer in church but probably not the only way of teaching and learning, engaging with God and encouraging one another because one size does not fit all.

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