Monday, May 28, 2012

An Experiment with Emergent Church

I've been contemplating a quote lately by Rosemary Radford Ruether talking about the roles of the Church.  She wrote that the Church exists both to pass along the tradition from generation to generation and to be open to the winds of the Holy Spirit.  Often individual denominations or churches seem to veer towards one or the other of those, and so holding the two in tension is a good and important goal. 
Pentecost seems like such a great marrying of the two.  It is the birthday of the Church and so deeply embedded in our tradition, and yet a time when we are thinking most intently about the new and living work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our churches.  It's also presents itself as an interesting time in the Church to introduce new possibilities to the congregation. 

On Sunday, instead of a sermon about the possibilities of the Holy Spirit, I was hoping to create an experience of Pentecost.  I set up nine prayer stations around the church and created a space to explore during the service.  It was great fun for (almost) everyone.  The kids were more involved in the service than they'd ever been before, and you could see some people's faces glowing as they walked between stations. 

Here's what we had:

A Scrabble station where people added words describing their relationship with God. 

There were strips of cloth laid out that people could braid while praying for a certain relationship.  The three strips of cloth represented them, God, and the other person in relationship.

There was a place set up for lighting candles.  (That was was visible as people came into church and they were really drawn to it, lighting candles long before I even explained what we were up to.)

One popular station had lots of play dough and invited people to create things to represent parts of creation that were broken or needed our prayer.
There was a basket of polished stones that people could pray their burdens or worries onto and then place in the water in the baptismal font.

Our labyrinth (painted on the floor) was open for walking, plus three art stations.  One was a mural where people could draw their hopes.  One was a place for drawing or writing things they are thankful for which they could choose to place in the offering plate.  A last station had conversations starters on the wall where people could finish sentences like: "Church is...." and "Love is...."

I really felt like the Holy Spirit was speaking to the people.

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