Grace - fresh vital worship since 1993

May 1998: Reimagining Worship

Grace 1998 Reimagining Worship flyer

This service was part of the 'Reimagining Worship' conference 8th-10th May at the Round Chapel in Hackney.

1. Introduction

The idea of sensuality. Using the senses to meet God, rediscovering some of what we've lost. (Jonny)

2. In darkness

In darkness, consider the scale of the universe and our significance within it. Video clip from '2001: A Space Odyssey', slides of stars and text. Candle prayers and lighting of the candle. (Mike)

3. Stones

Everyone is given a stone. A meditation on the uniqueness of each stone. (Dave)

4. Noise

'Inner City Life' plays with lyrics on the screen. Oscilloscope video loop. (Steve)


noise is unwanted sound       which is why       your parents call the music you like noise

but noise isn't just ab     out sound
it's about information
noise is whatever drowns out or interfer     es with or conceals meaningful inform     ation
sound engineers, radio engineers speak of two things, signal and noise.
the signal is the message, the meaningful part of the transmission
the no     ise is all the unwante       d stuff that interferes with your ability to he         ar or decipher the signal.
our lives are full of noise         too much information
too many messages that don't add up to any coherent whole
all competing for our attention     we can't find the signal     o     r m     ak e a ny     se     ns e o     f o ur     li     ve s

and so we go     into the desert to escape the noise

but then we can hear our internal noise
some of which is very gross       especially during silent prayer
and some of which is subtle but more deeply dis     turbing
like tinnitus
which is nerve da       mage to the inner ear resulting in a perm anent whistling or hissing noise
inside your head that you can never         escape
for someone like me who suffers from it there is no l     onger any such thing     as silence
if i am in a silent place what i hear is the high-pitched whistle inside my own head

and that's just the physical noise inside us

but our heads are full of mental noise.
the thoughts that won't     stop chattering that stupid     song that you can't get     out of your head
that nagging worry about something     you said
or didn't say
that hurt and anger that       you can't let go of, churning     inside you when
you're supposed to be concentrating     on work that dumb
joke that keeps making you giggle       on the bus so that people look         at you strangely...
and       when you're alone you can't pretend any more that any of these were necessary
so you try and put them aside to       pray

and now you become aware of spiritual noise

all those things that comp       ete with god
dist     racting yo     ur attention     towards selfish or worldly concerns
drowning out your attempts to hear god's voice     distor ting the mess     a       ge
or making you     lose bits       li e a mobile ph ne pas     ng under a bridg

sin is a kind of spiritual tinnitus
thecloser we get to         god's silence       themoreweareawareof theunceasingwhineinsideourselves
trouble is     we've lost the volume knob and anyway we're scared of silence because without all the activity and distractions
we'll have to face ourselves and god     and we are frightened         of what we might find
but god longs to heal us
to still the os       cill       osc       ope       s of our souls
turn the noise off
and give us peace
because only then
will we be able to hear
the music of heaven

(Steve Collins)

5. Songs

'Calm Me O Lord', 'The Lord is my Light'.

6. Confession

A prayer about the misuse of the senses. We had linked images, eg advertisements, up whilst it was read. Most notably Eva Herzigova in the famous Wonderbra ad. (Steve)

white lines
blowing through my mind
and all the while i think of you

you said
hello boys are you pleased to see me?
we said
lord, when did we see you naked
and not rewind

you said
some people bleed internally
for lack of anyone to touch them
and pronounce them clean
we said
some people are just asking for trouble

you said
it's a lovely day
come outside and smell the flowers
we said
there was a drunk on the train tonight
we could hardly breathe
don't these people ever wash?

you said
hey baby
we could make beautiful music together
you said
you could at least phone
we said
we're sorry there's no-one here to receive your call at present
please leave your name and telephone number
and we will get back to you as soon as possible

you said
if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off
If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out
with the remaining hand
because you can't, you won't, and you don't stop

you said
take, eat - this is my body
drink it all of you - this is my blood
we said
this product will only aid weight loss
as part of a calorie-controlled diet

you said
the eye cannot say to the hand "i don't need you"
or how are you going to reach out?
you said
the head cannot say to the feet "i don't need you"
or how are you going to dance?

we said
we are the body of christ
but it's not quite nice to talk about bodies
especially in church
if you wanted us to be holy
why did you invent sex?

you said
i gave up my body
to murder and resurrection
to put all this mess right
i can start changing things right now, if you want
we said
yes please

(Steve Collins)

7. Fruit and wonder

Fresh fruit is brought to the congregation who are invited to eat it, paying attention to taste and smell. (Jonny)

8. Blessing

May the power and the mystery go before us,
to show us the way,
shine above us to lighten our world,
lie beneath us to bear us up,
walk with us and give us companionship,
and glow and flow within us to bring us joy. Amen.


9. Song

'St. Patrick's Breastplate'.


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The space set up for the service. Words of 'Calm me O Lord' on the screen.

Mike Rose and Jonny Baker (standing) in discussion. Ian Mobsby and Simeon of Epicentre at the table.

Jonny Baker and Doug Gay (who was vicar of the Round Chapel at the time).

L-R: Neil Flint from Manchester, Jonny Baker, Mike Rose, Dave Holme, John Holme.

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