Monday, July 25, 2005

Thoughts on liturgy and church

A couple of posting ago I put up some thoughts about bad taste liturgy. These are some of my reflections.

I really appreciated the thoughts about bad taste. I think however we need to be careful. I spent some time with some youth leaders in Nelson who were appalled by Marva Dawn and her anti-modern modern /Hillsong+ Parachute style music comments. If you have read some of my comments, you will know I am not a big fan either, but I think there is a difference between my comments and hers. Most were left wondering if the Anglican Church has anything to offer them and the young people we work with.

So instead of being anti something, I liked the comments about re-connecting with the tradition, and letting that expand. The group I worked with really took to that. In the end, my bad taste is another’s art. So we do need to be careful not to end up being cultural snobs, but ready to embrace, and to let that speak to us, as I would hope what we love speaks to what they offer. Then we will create liturgy that is big enough.

Last weekend I helped run a liturgy workshop for Toru, The Anglican Centre for Youth Ministry Studies. The numbers were a bit low, and for good reason the seminar of the Friday night was cancelled. None the less, it was great to see some young people engaging at some level with creating liturgy that is accessible and rooted in our Anglican Tradition. I think this is one of the most important things we need to do.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Another very busy month.

Another busy month. Here are some reflections.

I went to the Order of Saint Stephen retreat in Wellington about 3 weeks ago. OSS is a religious order for 16-25 year olds. It acts as a community that both supports young people through the transitions of that age group, and offers a disciplined way to develop the spiritual disciplines needed for a life of faith. I think it is a great idea. One of the tasks ahead of us is how to spread the word and invite other young people into the order. It is this kind of creative thinking that links us back to the 2000 years of Christian tradition and spirituality, but reinvents it for today’s context. It is my privilege to be the national guardian of this order and to be part of this exciting and innovative enterprise.
We spent a whole day doing a theological reflection on what it meant to be a member of this order. It is a profound thing to be part of that kind of reflection, to see people explore their experience and discover some quite profound meaning in that experience.

The next week I had to go to Fiji for Toru, the Anglican Centre for Youth Ministry Studies. We were invited to give a presentation to the General Synod Standing Committee, the executive of the church. It was a horrendous experience. There were a whole lot of unasked questions that we could have addressed, but because they were not spoken we were not given the chance. When some of these surfaced in private conversations it was very depressing. Just as bad was that several of the members thought youth ministry was the lowest priority of the church. They were unimpressed by the decisions of General Synod last year regarding youth ministry, suggesting they were based on an emotive response. I wonder as I look at these people what kind of church they believe they leave those younger that then like me, or some of my friends in their 20’s who are about to be ordained or who have been ordained recently. Given nearly 50% of all those under 25 answered “No Religious Affiliation” to the religious affiliation question at the last census should give us food for thought and an impetuous to see ministry to those under 40 must be a priority. I have to admit to being shocked encountering this attitude. I thought we had got over that. It shows how much work we still have to do. I am thankful to those of the GSSC who see youth ministry as a priority, and who argued for Toru at the meeting.

Then it was off the annual National Youth Anglican Forum, Tikanga Pakeha, held in Christchurch. I really enjoy these events. It is great to be around a group of about 60 young people. At the closing worship we had several groups prepare various sections. It was very creative. A highlight for me was the group who developed the prayer of great thanksgiving, that took seriously the teaching that the priest acts as the President, and that priest and congregation together are the celebrants. Sot he priest said very little, and the young people said most of it. Great stuff!!

Now I am in Auckland for Toru, getting ready to run a workshop for young people on worship and liturgy. I am looking forward to what they write, and where that will take our understanding of liturgy and how it works.

More after the event.