Grace - fresh vital worship since 1993

November 2007: The Journey - worship songwriters consultation

the journey is the destination

we were invited to lead worship for the uk worship songwriters consultation. this is a gathering of the likes of graham kendrick, stewart townend, sue rinaldi, matt redman etc... i have to say this was a very nerve racking group to lead an alt worship experience for. we were given the theme of journey. these are the notes we had as a running order...

1. Preparation for the journey

[Give a notice at the end of the previous session or in the meal inviting people to make their way in to the worship space when they have finished the meal rather than 8pm on the dot.]

Have a sign up outside the room saying "take nothing for the journey" and invite people to take off shoes and leave wallets, keys etc to symbolise letting go of comfort for the journey with God (Lk 9). We will put some of our own keys and wallets etc in the box so it doesn't look empty. But when we write the names of a person on a sticker to go on their blindfold we will write another one, take their wallet and keys etc and put them in a party bag (see end) and stick their name on the bag. Shoes can be left outside the room.

2. Multi-sensory journey

Having invited people to take nothing with them for the journey, give them a blindfold, ask their name and then write it on two stickers. Place one on the blindfold and give the other to the person organising the bags (see 1). Then lead them to start the multi-sensory journey. This will incorporate smell, touch etc and at the end they are spun round whilst surrounded by sound. Then through the sound their name will be quietly called until they tune into it and follow into the worship space. The point of the journey is twofold – often on a journey there is uncertainty and bewilderment about what lies ahead, and taking out one sense heightens the other senses – maybe the same is true of our sense of God’s presence on the journey.

3. Arrival

In the worship space we will be playing some tunes and projecting images. When people finish the journey they will be given some printed instructions. These will invite them to do two things - a) reflect on the experience of losing a sense and encourage them to sense God's presence for the worship; b) take a UV pen and draw a line representing a recent or current journey or experience on their journey on one of several maps that will be around in the worship space. The idea with b) is not that they draw a geographical journey but one related to terrain - i.e. a valley or lake etc.

The printed instructions said this:

Jesus said: ‘The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’ We cannot see the Spirit of God with our eyes, so we need to use different ways to sense the presence of the Spirit. Your journey into the service tonight hopefully awoke your senses other than your sight. What was that experience like?

How often are we aware of the spirit of God? We are so used to our busy-ness, to the tangible, demanding world that we live in, that we forget to tune in to the presence of God.

Take some time to tune in to God's presence.

A prayer

Eternal God
Awaken our hearts to the reality of your spirit
Invigorate our senses with the purity of your spirit
Break down our defences with the beauty of your spirit
Fill us afresh with the presence of your spirit
In the name of Christ

Mapping the Journey

Reflect on your journey with God over the last few months or year. Go to one of the maps and with one of the pens there draw a line to represent that journey. Don't think in terms of geography but of terrain. Have you passed through valleys or hilltops? Have you been in an open space or hemmed in? Beside the sea or in a desert? Near to God or far away? If you're not used to reading a map there is a code, but don't worry about detail. Just draw a line that symbolises your journey

4. We are creatures of comfort

Reading/reflection on journey and letting go of certainities and
and prayer (confession and prayer from spirit service)

5. Mountain... valley... plain... - stages on the journey

Three vignettes (short reflections) on mountains... valleys... plains..., some of the range of terrains we might face. During valley one of the maps is painted over with dark paint.

6. Play track: Wayfaring stranger

7. God with us

Take the idea from Nooma video on breath of God being with us and us saying God's name with every breath whatever terrain we are crossing or whatever stage we are at on the journey. Encourage some silence to breathe and pray acknowledging the reality of the journey and the reality of God's presence.

Sing: Breathe on me breath of God to conclude the silence

Then gather around the maps, turn the lights off and the UV lights on and hopefully the journeys drawn earlier will glow in the dark symbolising the presence of Christ with us (idea inspired by vaux)

8. Journeying on from here

Liturgy far I have come far I must go with spoken response [we didn't have time for this]

Writing prayers/hopes for the journey ahead on paper and making origami boats and putting them on lakes on the maps or a blue cloth

Prayer for the journey ahead - invite people to pray in twos or threes.

9. Blessing

John O Donahue blessing

Party bags as people leave which will be named and have their original possessions in along with some other items - sweets, photo, meditation, prayer, duck keyring

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