Saturday, April 28, 2012

Worship as Stations

When I read Mark Pierson's The Art of Curating Worship, I was both intrigued and mystified.  Throughout the book, Pierson advocates more involvement with the Word.  Most of us are used to hearing a sermon, but few of us have experiences in church that engage all of our senses.

Pierson suggests setting up stations where people creatively respond to the Scripture.  His book contains plenty of suggestions, and I've had no trouble thinking about possible stations.  But I've had trouble imagining what a service would look like.

At our Create in Me retreat, we experienced such a service.  We set up a variety of stations around the sanctuary of the church that we use for our worship.  We came into the sanctuary, sang together, and then had 20 minutes to experience the stations.  Then we came together for Communion (which Pierson points out is the station that most of us have already experienced).

I may say more about the specific stations in a later post.  Today, I want to talk about my reactions to the service.

I expected to feel like it was the absolute best service I'd ever experienced.  I knew we'd be doing a variety of creative approaches.  It would be the kind of thing that my adolescent self would have loved.

And it would have been.  My grown up self felt a bit overwhelmed with all of the choices of stations.  Even though I knew I couldn't get to all of them, I felt a strange pressure to try.

Each station had a page to go along with it.  The page had a chunk of Scripture, a meditation, and a set of instructions for how to use the station.  I tried to read everything, but I noticed that most people didn't.

One of our problems was space, and it's a problem that I imagine most churches would have.  We only had about 60 people worshipping, but we still experienced trouble moving easily around the sanctuary.

I thought it was a cool alternative to the liturgical service which feels familiar to so many of us.  If my church had a creative service as one of the options, I'd probably choose it over the liturgical service.  I liked feeling more involved.  I liked moving around the sanctuary.  I liked the creativity.

After the service, I spent time thinking about how I'd respond to our service if I was used to this kind of worship with stations.  At some point, the newness would wear off.  Would I engage with one or two stations more deeply if I knew I'd have a chance to experience stations on a more regular basis?  Would I spend less time thinking about how the logistics worked or didn't work?

I'd like to experience this kind of service more often, but I suspect this kind of worship planning isn't taught in seminary.

And returning to The Art of Curating Worship, I'd love to take this kind of worship out into the world, a guerilla kind of worship and installation art/art in public space kind of event.  I love the idea of setting up a small station that encourages people to pause, to pray, perhaps to do something more.  In chapter 10 of the book, Pierson describes all sorts of efforts, from a huge labyrinth project that required over 1000 bales of hay to a Christmas tree decorating contest to various smaller meditative spaces.

Always interesting these questions of how to worship, how to bring the Good News to the world, how to be together as Church.


Wendy said...

One October Saturday, my spouse drew a labyrinth in the sand on the beach. He didn't think that much about it, but we moved a few feet off and then watched. It was fascinating to see what happened as people walked by and noticed. Several people took a second look. Several people walked it.

Kristin said...

I'm in awe of your spouse's labyrinth drawing abilities. It's a shape that gives me trouble. Love the idea of a labyrinth on the sand!

Wendy said...

I know!! To have a spatial mind like that. I wasn't even paying attention to what he was doing and suddenly there it was.

The most interesting thing to me as we watched that to a person the ones who actually walked it were women. Some men stopped and looked; one partner stood and watched as his companion walked it, but only women did it. Whatever that might mean for that particular hour at that beach in Oceanside CA.