Creative Ideas for Alternative Sacramental Worship

Creative Ideas for Alternative Sacramental WorshipMy good friend Fr Simon has had his first book published (and it is available on Amazon now).  It is part of the Canterbury Press Creative Ideas series, most of which I have and love. This one focuses on sacramental worship in a multi-sensory way. Emerging from Blessèd, an alternative worship community well known at Greenbelt, Walsingham and in the Fresh Expressions networks, it is full of examples and ideas for using technology in worship, even if you are non-techie like me. There are also visual and sensory ideas for Stations of the Cross, the Eucharist and walking the Labyrinth. And along with the book you get the whole thing on CD to cut and paste. (Oh, and it has one of my poems about Ash Wednesday in it too! Who’d have thunk it?)

The book explains how to use projectors and create videos in step by step stages with lots of visuals to help. Then there are creative examples for parts of the Eucharist (Gathering, The Penitential Rite, Dynamic Scripture, Eucharistic Prayers, and Intercessions). There are even suggestions for music tracks to be used as background sounds (and I was pleased to see some Bowie in there).  Those of you who are familiar with Stuart Muir’s organ accompaniment of the Eucharistic Prayer at General Synod might like to consider Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine on you crazy diamond Part 1’ as an alternative. And that is what this book is about – alternative worship. Packed full of ideas to use or use as a starting point for your own creative juices to flow.

Or imagine going along to your local church on Good Friday for Stations of the Cross and being handed an MP3 player on which is the music and text to accompany you around the visual and sensory stations. And if you feel that you’d never have the imagination to produce such a thing, then you don’t have to – Fr Simon has done it all for you.

There is just so much in this book to ponder and to be inspired by. (And no, I’m not on a commission!)

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7 thoughts on “Creative Ideas for Alternative Sacramental Worship

  1. It looks like fun.

    But truly, the concepts need revising for each context. I have never met a congregation that didn’t have the creativity to take the concepts and then create their own. Otherwise, it goes dead very quickly.

    (I haven’t read the book yet; so this is not about the specifics. I’ve just seen good worship go bad too often when people tried to recreate instead of creating for context)

  2. I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I said that it can spark off your own creative juices.

    What I love about Simon’s stuff is that he comes from a very traditional anglo-catholic training and manages to incorporate things which we might consider more ‘evangelical’ (ie use of computer images and screens) into catholic worship.

    I remember getting terribly excited by Richard Giles’ Re-Pitching the Tent and then realising that I didn’t have a huge cathedral space in which to rearrange the furniture. Context is all. We have to make do with what (and who) we have.

  3. I have used some of Simon’s material both in school and in church for some time. The great thing about it is that it can be used as a framework or starting point for your own liturgy within your particular context. You can use as much or as little as you wish or (as in the case of our parish) as much as the “liturgical police” allow. We adapted one of the eucharistic liturgies which Simon wrote and use it at our school eucharists, this did not mean ditching Common Worship but it did mean removing several of the so called “sacred cows”. If people take ownership of liturgy and it becomes something done by them rather than something done to them, it is amazing what can result. It may mean the the priest is no longer the “clown in the gown” at the front, apart from the eucharistic prayer our pupils lead the whole mass, I know this might be distrubing for some people but it works.Being creative may mean that we get rid of some of the things we ourselves have always held on to, but it should take us to a place where we ask difficult questions and have our comfort disturbed. Being more creative encourages questioning of why we do certain things in the Mass and this brings about the chance to discuss and engage with our faith at various levels. Within the context of the Church school, our liturgy has becme more dynamic, pupils have become involved rather than observers, it has encouraged questioning and recently three vocations to ministry. As you both point out creative liturgy needs to belong to the people creating it – society has changed and we in the Church need to accept it and whilst not compromising the foundations of our faith, we must adapt in order to engage with the culture in which we find ourselves. In my case an all girls Church of England school where the language of an Anglo Catholic High Mass celebrated by a male priest might as well have been a Martian fertility rite for all the meaning it had for the girls.
    One could say, the message remains the same it is just the method which has changed. I look forward to reading, using and adapting some of Simon’s material next academic year within our own context in both school and in the parish. For anyone who is on the brink of being creative with liturgy I say – try it, but ensure that it comes from within not from outside your congregations.

  4. Unfortunately one man (oops, not gender inclusive language)’s meat is another man’s poison. I can just imagine my two local Graham Kendrick haters’ delight if handed an MP3 with Pink Floyd on it. One is in his 70s and thinks we should have nothing more modern than Wesley, the other is 17 and thinks Kendrick, Wesley and Pink Floyd are equally old fashioned. I’m sure this all works if you have a big enough congregation it can split into a number of worship events.

    And what antique shop would you have to go to to get a projector?

    • Er… a data projector? Connected to a PC?

      Blesséd has a habit of using anything from plainchant to Groove Armada (and at Greenbelt this year a new psychedelic punk mass setting). We always try to transcend the kind of labels Agatha is keen on.

      Thank you, Neil for your kind comments.

      Simon+

  5. Book sounds great Fr.Simon! I must confess that I’ve not always been that fond of alt.worship, but that’s largely because of the moronic Jesus-is-almost-as-good-as-iCrap ‘talks’ that have been attached to it in evangelical settings. Agatha – I’m proud to loath Kendrick, but very much like Pink Floyd. I think there’s more (or at least as many)people who object to the Christian Rock that exists on aesthetic grounds ( as the lyrics tend to be as atrocious as the tunes are unmemorable) than there are those who reject rock per se. Muse seem pretty popular with da kids and very proggy. Anyway, how would one practically tailor songs to a 17 year old? ‘Christian rap’ (for example) tends to be so mortifyingly bad that embracing it (or something similar) is far more likely to backfire (IMHO).

  6. Fr Simon, thank you for the clarification you are not in the last century. Also the confirmation that the suggestions likely to work best in a large setting (e.g. Greenbelt) than the usual attendance round here of about 30 for whom Armada should be preceeded by Spanish rather than Groove.

    And I don’t like Kendrick either.

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