Thursday, January 27, 2011
Everyone goes to conferences looking for new ideas. Here's what I learned today: leaders provide the space and the people bring the ideas. We spent most of the day in a seminar on worship renewal. Several churches requested grants which would essentially motivate a congregation to focus on some aspect of worship for one year. They all said, "We didn't really need the grant, but the grant gave us the motivation to do what we felt God was calling us to do." One church focused on different imagery for the Holy Spirit, another focused on intergenerational ministries, another multicultural worship, another interactive preaching. In every instance, however, the leadership didn't dictate what was going to transform the congregation, they merely said, "Okay, here's our theme, how should we do this?" They made space for everyone's gifts to be shared and experienced. The pastor igniting a new spirit for the Holy Spirit found new artistic gifts in the congregation which united the people around art which ignited a fire in the hearts of the youth and drew all generations into active participation in the worship and sermon series. In each case, the leadership excercised an amazing sense of humility as they acted as facilitators to enable others to live out their vision. What humility to trust others with your own dream and vision for the ones you love…loving them enough to let them do it their own way…letting go of your dream to see God's dream for you and others.
This week we're looking at Paul's letter to the Philippians, which talks a lot about humility and unity. And for me, I think this is the key to this text. It is through humility that we are united, through the discovery of one another's gifts that we are all gathered together and lifted up as one body of Christ. Thought our history as Christians, we have allowed humility to separate us from each other as we translate this spiritual practice as one of self-hate and even self-mutilation to the point that we see others as so much better than ourselves that we see ourselves as nothing, with nothing to contribute. But the humility that Jesus exudes is one that draws people together. Humility is a solidarity with the oppressed, rather than a form of oppression. Humility reaches out and lifts up the brokenhearted, rather than continuing to breakdown our own broken selves. Humility, in the case of worship renewal, is answering God's call by calling others to join in seeking God's movement among us, then being open to God's movement, even when you're surprised and especially when you are surprised.
We worshiped twice in this amazing round chapel. Worship in the round. It had me mesmerized . The sound was so different; it actually sounded round. You could see people as you worshiped; we were singing to each other and hearing each other. It was multidirectional rather than one/bi-directional worship as in most churches. I know this isn't the only space like this, but this was my first experience with such a large group worshiping in a completely circular space. Above us some banners hung in a circular shape, and they swayed slightly from the air, accenting the presence of a wind…a spirit…The Spirit. It was like the visual representation for me of what I had been thinking about all day: leading worship as creating space for the Spirit to move and gifts to be shared. Here the space was literally at the center. It recalled to my mind God's creation of space at the beginning of time, "Let there be light", "Let the waters separate", "Let the waters gather allowing for the land to appear", "Let the days, nights and seasons have separation", "Let there be space, so that life can appear and swarm and be within."
Humility that induces a unity in diversity…something to ponder over the next few days...