“A good book, good art always destabilizes [people’s] egos…it knocks them off their equilibrium. It bring them into a counter-imagined space…suddenly you’re caught off a little bit…it de-centers the self and helps us to acknowledge, and even enter in to, the chaos of our life and think about who we are and the ultimates of life…”
- Ian Morgan Cron, http://vimeo.com/24286777
I think this is one of the big “shimmer” nuggets for me.
Many conversations at the Gathering revolved around the concepts of beauty, art, ritual, and mystery. It was good to hear some of my personal curiosities articulated and clarified. (Don’t you love those “YES, EXACTLY!” moments?)
As worship leaders we are challenged with the task (as seen by most) of “creating an experience” for others to attend. We all know it’s beyond a concert or performance. Yet the truth is, it rarely reaches the level of sacred. But isn’t that what our gathering are supposed to be? Sacred?
A second tension we navigate is one of authenticity and manipulation. We don’t want to affect people’s emotion and perspective simply by the music or setting. I’ve always wanted to hopefully anticipate where God might be moving and add a soundtrack, lyrics & melody, to help articulate and express where we would be as a congregation.
There’s an entirely new conversation going on in the worship circles right now regarding “Worship Curation.” Ever hear of it? Probably not (Apparently Microsoft hasn’t either because “Curation” has a little red squiggly line underneath.)
"We are starting to see a shift away from a linear, programmed approach to leading worship towards a multi-layered, nonlinear approach where environment is valued as much as content.” A Guidebook for Visual Worship, Stephen Proctor http://worshipvj.com/store/a-guidebook-for-visual-worship/
I’ve been taking my own steps on a journey to mine for the deeper gems available in our worship services. Over time I’ve adopted the vision/mission/purpose of our Worship & Arts ministry:
to create an ENVIRONMENT where
people can ENCOUNTER God and
ENGAGE Him in worship.
I’ve always been leery of the word “create” because I’ve felt that God ultimately is creating the environment. If we are the soul creators, then it will always feel superficial or forced. Maybe Co-create is a better phrase. But I’m liking the word “Curate.” It seems to be more true.
So getting back to the other word of this post, “disequilibrate.”
My SHIMMER came when I realized that part of curating the environment is making sure beauty and mystery are part of what is presented. While there is definitely a place during our gatherings for a 3-chord rocking worship song, there is also the necessity for music that is more appreciated than understood. And by understood, I don’t mean that it is impossible to understand musically or technically. But there is a mystery, a deep source of wonder at the foundation of the song. This is the Soul of the Creator, the sacred heart beat that has been passed on to all of us who create in His Image.
We can choose songs that accentuate people’s emotions – often, that’s part of what we do. There’s an emotional, spiritual, psychological journey that we’re taking with them. We have happy moments, pensive moments, times of reflection and times of revelation. Beyond that, I’m feeling led to find music that tells the story on multiple levels. Let the lyrics direct the mind and the music – the tempo, timbre, tonality, harmony – direct the heart, and the art and beauty direct the soul. They all need to be there. God’s Story is a mystery unfolding. It centers us and disequilibrates us simultaneously. It reminds us of the reality that we live in a now/not yet reality – a spiritual and mortal world – a Kingdom present and still yet to come.
Could music, our worship services, our time together help that mystery to resonate? Could we create (or curate) moments that de-centers us while simultaneously draw our plum line to God’s center?
Before I event went to the Gathering, God began bringing me thoughts about how to more completely tell the Story. Beyond music, what other forms of Art can be used? What artists exist that are telling the Story? And does it have to be ART that brings us into this mystery?