I was having coffee Monday with my best friend Dan, talking about alternative worship that is counter-cultural, and engages. And when we were talking counter-cultural, we were also talking counter the prevailing church-ianity culture. All of us have got our own thing, for the most part, it's comfortable and it works. The pentecostal folks I'm hanging out with would never admit to having liturgy...denial, sorry you've got it. It may not be anglican liturgy, but you've got pattern, form, structure, rhythm...a works of the people. And, there is little variation from Sunday to Sunday.
In a few weeks time I'm speaking to a group of younger folks around God and creativity, maybe that's why my thoughts have wandered outside the box. When we think of worship, how much creativity goes into it? Is creativity important? Are our imaginations stirred by the wonder of God? Does your community incorporate, and utilize the imaginations of the artists in planning worship?
In worship, in the context of community, I've always had this image of the cross that fills my mind. Our worship should be cross-dimensional, horizontal and vertical...it should engage God as much as it does the world around us.
Community art collectives would seek to embody the fecund ( or for a beautiful definition of fecundity by Nouwen, read what Paige said in the comments ) imaginational activity of the Spirit of God. They are creative, prophetic, propagandist, subversive. They explore the cultural, social, and intellectual implications of the thesis of God. They struggle to see differently, to conceive of new things. They are a place for reflection, analysis and restatement, through conversation, Bible reading, art, prayer, writing. They draw inspiration from the dramatic actions, publicity stunts, by which the prophets – including the prophet from Nazareth – confronted Israel with the prospect of judgment and restoration, failure and forgiveness, death and life. The emerging church is a place for re-imagining what it means to be a distinct, peculiar people telling its story among the nations and tribes and cultures of the world.
The ‘art collective’ analogy makes us stop and think seriously about what we want to say to the world and how we want to say it. We are attempting to articulate in public something far more dense, complex, narrative, engaging, penetrative, subversive than can be expressed through the conventional forms of Christian culture. That is surely what Jesus was doing when he commandeered a colt and rode into Jerusalem, or overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple.
I would suggest that the Spirit of prophecy is stirring us to a creative, exuberant, multidisciplinary exploration of the calling to be a renewed humanity in Christ – awakening our collective imagination, prodding us to develop non-conventional means of communication that will achieve the largest visibility for the creator God…. With minimal effort? Perhaps not – Ezekiel spent 430 days lying next to a brick to get across the message that God would punish the house of Israel. But we recognize the limitations of our resources and trust the creative God to make up the artistic deficit.
On a side note, Dan showed me this interesting article from CBC, " U2-charist." This is a reflection of imagative worship...it engages God, and the world around us.