Wise words from the archbishops

25 09 2008

I’m no economist, and I couldn’t really tell you the ins and outs of why the world’s banking and finance system appears to have completely collapsed over the past couple of weeks. However, from the small amount I do know I find myself agreeing with what both Rowan Williams and John Sentamu have been saying. And I can’t help but feel this quote sums up nicely the greed and hypocrisy inherent in our current system:

“One of the ironies about this financial crisis is that it makes action on poverty look utterly achievable.’ It would cost $5 billion to save six million children’s lives. World leaders could find 140 times that amount for the banking system in a week. How can they now tell us that action for the poorest on the planet is too expensive?”

And another subject quite close to my heart, talking in relation to the hardships farmers in this country are facing due to bad harvests:

“If they can find $700 billion to support the market, will the Government – and bankers – help bail out our farmers? Farmers are facing ruin not because of bad investment, or speculation. Can we help secure the vital food security they provide?” (emphasis mine)


Worship pt 2

13 09 2008

So I was thinking of what other forms worship could take and I think my conclusion was that the list was almost endless! Having said that worship is a (possibly unique) expression of who we are before our Lord and Dad, then that must mean that anything that is expressive can be used in worship. Amongst the obvious would be music, dance, drama, also then poetry, artwork, photography… and that’s me speaking as a scientist, I’m sure anyone with a more artistic bent could think of many, many more expressive and creative forms of worship. Could it almost be considered a challenge within each church to push individual members of the congregation to really experiment and explore and find how they most readily overflow in praise and adoration for their creator. Maybe it would even bring a smile to God’s face, seeing his children all striving to find something that truly expresses themselves to offer back to Him.

I have also been musing over ways to encourage people to take that bold first step and try something new. I have found in my own experience that I quite often don’t have the bottle to freely express myself when surrounded by people I know within the church (though I would obviously never be so proud as to let others opinions influence my actions… hmm…) and yet when I get to a big event or different location I am quite often more free. One thing I have found particularly liberating is loud music and darkness, there is definitely something to be said for the thought (illusion?) that no-one else can hear or see you. At the other end of the spectrum though, there are times when constantly having good (I’m not going to touch on what defines “good” music here, or discuss different musical styles, I am more musing over the big picture) and loud music can draw more attention to the music than to God and so stripping it all back to possibly just a small acoustic set is more liberating in focusing solely on God and worship of Him. Or maybe the challenge is to have a mix and balance between the two extremes.

There is no doubt a risk that by constantly pursuing an “individualised worship style” some of the power and necessity of worshipping corporately, and as a united body, will be lost and I do not think that that would be beneficial to anyone in the long run. I see all the above musings and challenges through the lens of maintaining the group based focus common to most churches. I believe there is a tension that must be found between acknowledging the differences in worship styles between each individual member of the body yet also remembering that they are all still a part of the same united body.

I was reading a brilliant book, Enter the Worship Circle by Ben Pasley recently where a worship evening is described. (This is all as far as I remember, apologies for any errors in relation to the book!) At the front there was a band playing, in one area a big sheet with loads of paints, in one corner some clay and a potters wheel, in another area sheets of paper and pens and crayons. During the evening the band worshiped musically whilst others danced in front or engaged with each of the different areas set up. Every now and again they would come together for a song together, or someone would come forward and share some of what they’d been doing somewhere in the room. It all sounded so random and crazy yet somehow ordered. It was corporate in the sense that everyone was there worshiping the same God within the same framework and they all came together every now and again, yet at the same time it was very individualised, a personal expression of each creation expressing themselves before their creator. Maybe this is a way of keeping all the ideas mentioned above in tension?

I suppose that by enlarging these ideas slightly one would also find that each church (in a local sense) would also have a unique way of worshiping, depending on their congregation, area, history, corporate relationship with God.  This is about as far as I’ve got at the moment, and I am well aware that I still have a lot to learn. I don’t think I will ever have “the answer” (is there one?) when it comes to how to worship but I’ve realised I love thinking about it and experimenting. Please feel free to leave a wee comment with what you think/how you worship/if you’ve ever tried experimenting on a personal/church level, I’d be interesting to hear other perspectives.

worship Pt 1

11 09 2008

So, an attempt to possibly start chrystallising some thoughts that have been meandering through my head for the last wee whiley.

(As a wee mini disclaimer before I start, this is pretty much a sum of some of my thoughts in an attempt to get them clearer within my own head. I’m aware that a lot of my friends have most certainly already been here and I take a lot of inspiration from where they’re at in attempting to draw myself further on. Out of kindness to you all I’ve split the post in two, with part two to follow, apologies for the length!!!)

I’ve managed to dot around a few different countries and styles of church recently, have been reading a few interesting books on worship and slowly been realising how much God’s been teaching me over the past year or so. I’ve also realised how much I still have to learn but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

I think one of the main things I’ve been mulling over is the form worship does and should take, not in the sense of “worship is a lifestyle” (not that that’s not true) but more in a sense of worship within church meetings. One of the things that struck me is how similar worship is across every church I’ve ever been too. Or more precisely, despite some churches sitting down to sing, others jumping up and down and others standing still, every church seems to focus on using some form of music in worship. Don’t get me wrong, I love music and feel it is an amazing and integral part of worship, but I have found myself questioning more and more on whether we are missing something by focusing solely on music. If God has made everyone completely uniquely and we are called “in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Rom 12:1), does that not mean we should see more (all?) people with their own (unique?) form of worship.

To clarify: One of the most amazing things I think I have seen is when you catch a glimpse of someone completely lost in worship to our amazing God. There is something so innocent about it, almost as if every mask has been stripped away and you can catch a small glimpse of who they truly are. My question is why that is such a relatively rare occurrence. I’m sure part of it is our natural reluctance to completely let down our guard and give our all to God, but is another part of it the fact that worshipping just with music, whilst attractive to many, quite often doesn’t release us in a way that other forms of expression possibly could.

What if everyone had the opportunity to completely express themselves as they wanted every time we came into worship as a body? Would we then see more people dancing, drawing, sitting, standing, kneeling, quiet, singing, laughing, crying… I believe there is still an incredibly strong case for having music, both biblically and culturally, but within a wider musical framework is there a way of having more freedom for other expressions of worship?

I have been learning a lot over the past few months about what it means to be free in worship, whether in music, singing, drawing, dancing (or fidgeting in time to the music!)… to be honest with you I’m not that great at any of them, yet I have found myself being challenged more and more on whether that should have any bearing on my use of them in worship. It was David who said “I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” (2Sam 6:21-22), so surely I have a good precedent for just being myself before Dad, even if it involves making an absolute fool of myself (a regular occurence)!


11 09 2008

I was away with my family last week in what is often described as the last wilderness in the mainland. You can only get there by boat, and it isn’t the most densely populated place in the world!

During the course of the week we saw: a few golden eagles, lots of red deer, an otter, a badger, several wild goats… It was incredible seeing them so close to. I have also never seen so many stars in my life, I found it hard at times to find the constellations I’m familiar with as there were so many other stars it was hard to pick out the bright ones! Made me apreciate more what David was talking about in Psalm 19, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

All in all it was quite a humbling week, reminding me how blessed I am with such an awesome God, beautiful country, and amazing family.


4 08 2008

wow, possibly one of the crazier weeks of my life! Last week I was up at Imagine with about 20 folks from my youth group. I’d been praying that something amazing would happen, particularly given the change after last year, but I definately wasn’t prepared for how God was going to move.

Throughout the week the presence of God was tangible in a kind of raw and powerful way, this led on to being overwhelmed by the spirit more strongly than ever before, seeing our group plus a few others stay in the main morning meeting for an hour and a half after it “finished” praying, prophesying, dancing, soaking, laughing, crying, worshiping, and generally enjoying God and being touched by God in amazing ways.

It was amazing seeing how God really took everyone on a journey and how everyday He drew us closer to him and showed His heart through visions, pictures, preaching, and worship. The last night at the main meeting there was a chance for folks to come to the front and give testimony as to what God had been doing throughout the week. It was overwhelming seeing young person after young person come to the front, quite often in tears, speaking of how God had showed them how his heart is breaking for their communities, schools, churches and how they were going back home to help show Jesus in dark places. I was reminded again and again of a phrase I heard a while ago, “we are just the tour guides pointing out where Jesus already is”.

I’m still trying to piece together everything that I learnt throughout the week to see where to go from here, but I’m very excited though at what God has planned for this amazing city this year.

“i see a generation rising up to take their place

with selfless faith with selfless faith.

i see a near revival stirring as we pray and seek

we’re on our knee’s we’re on our knee’s.”

Hosanna, Hillsong United

God is good!!!

6 07 2008

wow, what a weekend! It’s been amazing. The past few weeks/couple of months have been interesting (and not necessarily so great) for a number of reasons. However, throughout the past week at work I’ve felt God catching up with me more and more; answering half muttered prayers, putting praise on dry lips and then on Friday at youth group something broke and I felt caught up again in His amazing love and joy! It’s such an amazing feeling going from a dry place to being overwhelmed by our amazing saviour 🙂

Following on from that I managed to catch up with an amazing, sold-out, crazy friend and see God’s beautiful creativity displayed once again over this amazing city. God is Good!!!

Carlsberg don’t do city’s, but if they did…


11 06 2008

I was at Frenzy at the weekend, absolutely brilliant! It was the first time I’ve been in the country when it’s been on, and also the first time I’ve ever seen David Crowder Band and Chris Tomlin. They were both amazing.

Particular highlights were: David Crowder playing a Guitar Hero guitar that his drummer has tinkered with so it works like “a professional musical instrument” as the man himself said, Chris Tomlin singing Amazing Grace (My chains are gone) with many a tear being shed in the crowd, You’re the God of this City with several thousand folks singing along at the tops of their voices, Delirious doing an amazingly challenging call to action type set, a friend getting ‘holy laughter’ in the middle of it all, and then meeting the David Crowder band afterwards 🙂

Here’s a few photos I managed to get on my phone, sorry for the terrible quality!!!