i thought I’d start my reflection on the weekend’s workshops by sharing the worship space that i set up for the afternoon. i must admit that when i am asked to do these things i feel a bit hesitant, sometimes it makes me feel like the weird one out of the group, kind of a “come look at the freak” more than a genuine interest in doing something different. this event wasn’t like that, but i do have to share my disappointment in the realisation that noone really decided to enter the space in worship, they walked in, took the welcome sheet, walked around, some took notes and walked out. i’m not exactly sure why, if it was the bouncy flywall or ps2 games in the other room or if the room it was set up in didn’t feel sacred enough or if people are genuinely frightened by taking the step into a worship space that’s slightly different to what they’re used to…
the space consisted of an entry point where a tv sat next to a welcome sheet, on the tv i rotated the “all about Jesus” adverts for tv and the “Jesus” movie, the welcome sheet had instructions and a rant on it to let the participant know that this was a place of worship and should be treated as such, and i also included the lyrics to Ben Harper’s “picture of Jesus“.
i projected moving images of Jesus from various dvds and documentaries onto the walls, i had attempted to block out most of the light, but a series of ceiling lights stopped the space from really taking on the feel that i wanted. the soundtrack was a selection of Jesus songs that i played rather loudly throughout the space so it could be heard as people walked past the door.
around the room i scattered various images of Christ, some I’d sourced from Bill Millar’s Jesus Image Gallery, some I’d sourced from other places and the rest had been sourced from the “Christ We Share” resource that CMS produced with 32 coloured A5 images of Jesus.
alongside the images i scattered a selection of quotes about Jesus like “for Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his to the Father through the features of men’s faces” “Jesus was killed because of the way he ate” and “if Christ’s power lies in being able to cleanse, then a church where no dirt is allowed in is powerless.” and “the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you said, “Look a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!”” I threw in some bible references and lyrics from other songs and movies as well.
in the centre i placed a Christ candle around which i laid out some coloured paint on paper plates, paint brushes, more bottles of paint, crayons, textas, pens and paper for people to paint with.
in the end it was a very simple space to create, after last year’s larger space and the hassles i had packing it all up and setting it up in time i decided that this year would have to be simpler. i had some larger ideas that included a few kg’s of mud to go with a quote from Kester Brewin’s “The Complex Christ” about Jesus and dirt, a few bottles of poured out wine to stain images of Christ and to cast a particular scent around the room, some playdough for the playful images of Jesus and i wanted to print an image of Christ onto a transparency to stick over a massive mirror to portray the broken Christ, a massive poster of a crowd of people with an image of “where’s Jesus?” (like where’s wally) but i stuck to the KISS method of worship space creation for the day.
all up i was happy with the space, but just a tad disappointed in the response it seemed to gather, people who are interested in learning how to put this kind of space together, but who are unable or unwilling to enter it to think about how people, how they respond in such a space…
Welcome to worship,
This is not a youth worship event
This is not a workshop
This is not an art display
This is our worship
This is not some weird postmodern thing
This is not an emerging church exhibition
This is not a class
This is our worship
Our one sure hope is that God is present with us,
We invite you to spend some time wandering through the space, reflecting on the words and images around you and allowing God to meet you where you are.
When you feel comfortable doing so, we invite you to grab a pen, some paint, the crayons and some paper and spend some time reflecting on the picture of Jesus that you carry with you.
What does he look like?
What does he do?
Is he happy?
Is he sad?
Is he black or is he white?
Is he disabled?
You don’t need to be perfect, there are no Monet’s or Picaso’s here today, draw, paint, be messy, have fun, get covered in paint, be playfully irreverent.
We all carry around with us an image, a picture, a photocopy of Jesus, the image feeds our ministry, it inspires us, it urges us on, yet we rarely seem to reflect on it.
As your image takes form place it around the room and add it to the collection of images around, if you wish to feel free to leave an explanation of your image, why you painted or drew it in the way that you did.
Welcome to worship…