this is the fifth of a series of short reflections celebrating twenty years at cms
as well as being at cms twenty years i had another twentieth anniversary this year which somehow passed me by. that is how long i have been writing a blog. i was persuaded by andrew jones that i should write one and began on blogger and my first entry was in april 2002. one of the first things i started was a series of worship tricks. the name is a bit naff but they were creative ideas, installations, rituals, liturgy, videos that i came across that could be shared. back then search engines were not so good so having linkages was helpful. it also helped me catalogue things i could return to. there are 4 series - see the sidebar for links to them on the right. they have completely slowed down over the last few years (or decade even) but occasionally i add another. the thing that interests me about them looking back is that i have always loved creative, soulful, artful worship. i have published more in that area than anything else i think - alternative worship, curating worship, chapters in other books, labyrinth kit, the pocket liturgy series with proost, various albums and so on.
fresh expressions and pioneering (more on those in later posts in this series) rightly brought different start points from alternative worship - listening, being present, getting involved in community things. growing a community of disciples and finding ways to express worship come a lot later. so it interests me how i have carried that thread right the way through. i still think it's important - there is something magical about an experience or expression of worship that feels like it is on the inside of a culture, that you can be totally at home in. and at some basic level i think i have also been passionate about it because i struggle with expressions of worship that are done by the book or have blocks of singing with songs you can predict and make no connection imaginatively with the context, or that simply feel alien. the added value at cms has been learning from the global church and seeing places where indigenous expressions of worship and liturgies emerged as opposed to imposed western ones. the description of the mass with the masai in vincent donavon's christianity rediscovered blew my mind i seem to remember.
i haven't checked but i expect many of the links in worship tricks are broken or disappeared (and i have no intention to fix them) and the worship tricks are dated though no doubt some still ring true. but the delight of those creative moments and offerings is still there and i hope to stumble across many more going forward and i long for more people to have the courage to create. i have taught the worship module for pioneers at cms and that has been a great joy too seeing them explore what worship could look and be like in the communities they are among.
it has been incredible to be a part of a small creative church all the time i have been at cms - grace in ealing. there are so many beautiful prayers and liturgies and rituals that have nurtured my theology and faith that have then made their way into worship tricks, been shared at cms with pioneers, been picked up round the world. what a gift that has been. i have always thought the church's liturgy should be open source - downloadable, able to be remixed and uploaded for others to rework. i hope that's what people do with the worship tricks. the availability of communication technology has certainly made that possible though on balance i find the church still seems to prefer control to trusting its people and the creative process.