prayerformance

Sunday morning I explored something new- Leaps and Bounds was the worship experience for the St John’s Presbyterian congregation in Berkeley. It is a beautiful space with a kind and impassioned congregation. I am so grateful that this community took the leap with me to be the first ones to try this out. Their pastor, Max Lynn, interested in enabling new hope and new life within the church, had the wisdom and wherewithal to trust that such a performance would be a gift to the community.

St John's

St John's

The show moves from harsh realizations to unhinged playfulness, to heavy grief, to wild ecstasy. Recognizing that this range of experience is not generally a part of conventional worship services, I was a bit nervous about how it would be received. I was delighted to find that even a few, who revealed themselves to have been skeptical about such an offering, found this to be an engaging and meaningful worship experience. Not only does this show provide a fresh way of looking at scripture- but it also provides a chance for the congregation to chuckle together, to mourn together, to handle some playful queries and confront some hard questions- together.

I was raised in a Presbyterian church where applause seemed course and inappropriate in a worship setting. Even as a small child I realized that this social construct was a restraint on Spirit, that I was holding something in, and that tension was even more of a distraction to my worship experience.

Usually, before I begin the show, I invite the audience to keep track of what wells up within them and give them permission to respond- to let their responses be a part of the show.  There have been some groups who relish that opportunity (who shout out some Amen’s or sing along with a song) and some who are reticent. And sometimes I begin a show with a group that appears shy and uncertain and find that something loosens, people momentarily forget themselves, Spirit breaks through the civility, and unexpected outcries enter the space. I am doing my best to reveal my humanity, and how God is at work in my grief and in my joy. And for the ways that this show triggers other’s genuine grief and transcendent joy, I am most grateful!

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