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Tuesday, July 01, 2008
worship quote of the week

“Do not suppose that this is the kind of drama one can view from a grandstand seat. We are not to be spectators of something that happened once upon a time. The Bible is not a book of ancient history. It is more like the commedia dell’arte, a dramatic form which flourished in sixteenth-century Italy. In this kind of drama, the players were asked to improvise, to put themselves into the story. To be sure, it was not a free improvisation, for there were some given elements: there was the director, there was a company of actors, and there was a story plot which was given to them in broad outline. With these given elements they were told to improvise—that is, to fill in the gaps on their own.

We too, are “called upon to improvise—that is, to put ourselves into the story and to fill in the gaps with our own experience. We must be ready to get onto the biblical stage and participate personally—along with the ‘company,’ the community of faith—in the dramatic movement of the plot, act by act. 

Bernhard W. Anderson, The Unfolding Drama of the Bible, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988. pp.16-17.)

When the Story is immersively remembered and reenacted in the sanctuary, imaginative improvisation readily unfolds in the streets.  In this way worship makes a constant connection, bridging between memory and mission.  

So what implications does this have for worship design and leadership?

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posted by John David Walt | at 7/01/2008 08:59:00 PM



Blogger chad said...

Designing worship with this in mind allows the story to not be static.

What we then do have to do is be careful of how we place ourselves in worship, not where we are sitting, but how much we assume our emotions have a rightful place in the service.

What about those church services around holidays where patriotic "hymns" are sung for most of the service (this weekend will be a great example)?

This means that we have to train our congregations to truly believe that they are immersed inside the scripture-not just by memorization, but by understanding that the story is still unfolding.

9:49 AM EDT  
Anonymous John Palmer said...

That your worship design leadership will know the story to begin with and realize the importance of telling THE story through their own lives. Ideally then the "play" never ends and those that have come to "see" will be prompted to "join" act.

Just finished "The Shack"(basically your recomendation) and am still processing it. The tangent with this blog comes to how the story of"The Shack" places primary importance on relationships, and demonstrates how we are to be in relationship. If we are in right relationship this will drive our passion to be in the story and share it with everyone.

10:40 AM EDT  
Blogger Erin Crisp said...

It changes the way I experience worship personally. Instead of being, perhaps, distrustful of my own senses, I learn to embrace all that I am sensing during worship, to hold those moments captive and live in them.

How dull would drama become if the participants acted only on an intellectual level? And yet, it is tempting to "participate" in worship daily as an evaluator, observer, judge, or critic- incidentally, all activities that can easily be done individually.

Participating personally along with the company requires that I value my senses (not just my intellect) and value and trust members of my community. Easier said than done at times.

1:58 PM EDT  
Blogger J.D. Walt said...

Thanks Chad-- I don't think we need to be afraid of emotion at all really. We should steer clear of emotional-ism, if that is what you are driving at. The Story itself should inspire tremendous emotion rather than crescendo-ing sound or increasing the decibles.

John-- i agree with you precisely on the point of "play" never ending. here is where the seam gets virtually erased between the sanctuary and the streets and you also make a great point about relationships-- this is the notion in Romans 12:1 where the offering is of "bodies" (plural) as a living "sacrifice" (singular). The Body is clearly about relationships-- note how chapter 12 progresses quickly to talking about how "each member belongs to all the others." i'll be interested in your review of The Shack.

Erin-- you make a good point about the strong individuation of our worshipping ethic and how we readily substitute observation, evaluation, criticism and so forth for real participation. I think you are driving at a kind of participation that requires the risk-taking of vulnerability and submission to others. i'd like to hear more of your thoughts on embracing the "senses" in worship.

9:12 PM EDT  

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