Glass House Experiences
A Glass House Experience: Where there's an open space to give new ideas a go, Knowing there is no-one objecting (throwing stones) and there is the freedom to stretch thinking, fail and learn from it.
An Immersive Easter
We are not at the Intergenerational aspect of worshipping together yet, but we are at the engaging all ages space. This Easter we decided to have a seated, immersive experience of the stations of the cross on Good Friday. We found imagery of the stations, some scripture readings and reflective responses to that. We also had tactile elements in packs that were on people’s seats when they entered. For those online we sent out information to those to gather beforehand so they could join us online and have a similar experience.
We moved through the stations of the cross, narrated by a leader, with music intertwined. The service was amazingly immersive and it worked and came together really well. We had a mixed of style of songs. The youngest in the room was 3 years old and the oldest was in their 90’s. The items were things like red ribbon, nail, the leaves of the garden. We had a scratch art black cross, that we encouraged them the hold the blackness of black Friday and not yet reveal it till Sunday. They were asked to bring it back and reveal the colour on Sunday. While there were some that refused to be involved, but each time we do things, when there is one more who chooses to be involved, that’s a win. While there was some people who found the scratching off of the black was a noisy distraction on the Sunday, we used it as a chance to ask the questions “did you see the joy it brought the children? Did you see the colour it brought to the room?”
We then ended with a picnic in the park. There was no real plan, nothing scripted, it was a place that was good for all ages to access. There was a lovely mix of all ages talking and interacting. We need to know we can keep it super simple, I can rock up with me first aid kit and take a role and then let people interact from there. It birthed something that happened on the Monday, as many people were feeling very house bound because of COVID. Some began a conversation of being able to use the Church hall on Sunday, as an impromptu space for families, which did happen and it was a pleasant surprise.
We are resolute to continue to try new things in small ways to build their muscles in the ‘differentness’.
“I love that you used the word ‘Immersive’ – using all the senses and inviting people to use their imagination is powerful"
“Distractions can be seen as noise, but when any number of people get together there is always sound. If feels like sometimes the noise children makes can be seen as a distraction, but if we can help people to switch their thinking that children’s noises are a part of the sounds of worship. The scratching of the taking off the black was seen as fidgeting; how can we help re-classify/re-frame it as an act of worship? Noise verses sound, is something good to consider"
Q: I wonder what reflections you have ?
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Baptism By the River
We are Baptists, so we do mature age, full immersion baptism. She was 15 years old and she wanted it to be a witness to her friends. We had a service at a local river. There was about 60 of us that began by meeting in a home, then we all walked down to the river together. We did the first half of the service, the vows and the baptism itself. We had people on two sides of the riverbank and then others hanging over the pedestrian footbridge. There was a lot of talking together on the way down and then to witness the powerful event together in public was beautiful. There were places we could have done it which would have been more public, during the preparation, I asked her if there was a special location for her. When she was in primary school, she would walk past the river to go to school. It is a familiar place for her. But the other thing that made it special was one of her brothers, who has a lot of problems with anxiety and a couple of years ago had a cool experience at that river. I was asked and take him for a walk, he needed someone outside his family to talk to, so I said let’s go for walk. We went down to the river, when we got there, we saw a platypus. They are incredibly shy creatures, you can walk along that bank for 10 years and not see one, but it just happened to surface when we got to the bank. That story had been passed around the family and around the congregation. So that has made that river a hallowed place in people’s minds in our community.
But the thing that I particularly loved about the baptism day, was that we went back to the home and had the second half of the service consisted of this young woman giving her testimony and then we had communion and a party. So, I didn’t preach, but the 15-year-old gave her testimony and that was the teaching event of the day. She had invited her friends from school, that had no church background. They had come earlier in the week to her house, to understand what was going to happen. Instead of me explaining what was going to happen during the event, I got her to explain it. She was able to witness to her peers in the smaller group context and then in the larger group context they were able to hear it again. I was reflecting that, what they saw was 60 people seated or standing listening to a 15-year-old talk about their faith. I thought there aren’t many contexts in this world where they would see so many people listening to a 15-year-old talk about anything really. That encouraged me, that we had a group of people who were willing to listen to a younger person. She was a model for the 15-20 younger people that were present, she was scaffolding the younger people, she was witnessing to her peers and she was modelling that faith is being gladly proclaimed by younger people. It was profound.
What she had written as her testimony, we put on the church website, and I know since then people have accessed it. There was a woman whose parents are in aged care, she wasn’t at the baptism, but she read it, printed it out and took it and read it to her parents who are in their 90’s. They grew up in the church and were so encouraged. Again, faith is being passed up to the generations, they were celebrating that this faith that has sustained them for 90 years is being proclaimed by such a young person. As a pastor I could provide the scaffolding for that to happen, but in some ways, it was all happening without me.
The elements that worked, was the process we walk through for Baptism. I was able to say to her “I know you don’t like to talk in public, but this is the one time I am going to ask you to do it. I am going to coach you on this.” That scaffolding enabled her to find her voice and I was really surprised how wonderful she was. Sometimes you have an event where you feel that the Holy Spirit was with us, this was one of them.
I have been thinking about this lately, how do we push faith back into people’s homes? It is still something that people are trying to access as a consumer product. We go to this place, to access this special spiritual experience, to sure up our faith for the next 7-21 days before I get back to church. So, by doing this in the home and in the community, we could help by creating this moment for them in their own space.
People are all so busy, it is hard to make time for devotions or mealtime prayers or anything. So, trying to ask the question, how do we do this event which includes the gathered community, but it is in the locations that are the everyday. It means that every time she walks into her kitchen, she remembers, we had 60 people in here celebrating her baptism. She stood right in her dining room and witnessed to her friends. As long as she is living at home, it is anchored in the home, in a way that if it was in a fairly anonymous building, it might not have the same effect.
The culture I am ministering in, is that going to church is the 4, 5, or 6th you do on a Sunday. As much as I can anchor stuff in their home the better in the long term.
“I am silenced by the gold of the fact that you just did that in a familiar place. I am thinking of the disciples and how Jesus baptised in the lake near them. That is going to be a daily remembrance for her as she passes that each day. We can put lot of energy in setting up an environment to make it unique and special and what just came out of it just naturally was holy spirit wisdom, to just create a memory.
“I love the simplicity of doing life together. Even the party. Sometimes we do things like a baptism in a service, and it is a 5-minute spot amongst all other things in a service. Being able to stay in that space and make that the gathered experience is very special”
“Often people feel overwhelmed and tired about the fact that they must create this big experience, but actually it is more about unlearning that and doing things more simply. You have just given a perfect example of how powerful things that can happen across the ages.”
Q: I wonder what reflections you have ?
More Coming ......
More Coming ...
watch this space