Yesterday I went to a Praxis day on alternative worship and emerging church, which was conveniently held at St Cuthbert's.
It was great to catch up with Jonny Baker and Paul Roberts there, and to meet Nick Mercer. His presentation on postmodernism was great with a compelling mix of quotes on the screen, music by Leftfield and some profound insights into what is going on culturally. Malc, Sophs and I did a half hour worship slot, as part of the day at lunchtime, and I did a meditation on the temptations in the desert as part of this, linking it to where we are at as a church in these changing times.
This Desert Planet.
Voice 1 - In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan.
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.
Voice 2 - A desert planet....
Once we stood by the clear waters, knowing who we were, who the church was and where we were going....
...now we’re in the desert....
...severe and bleak.
...but full of Eastern promise.
...the rules are different.
The old ways don’t work.
...it is a lonely place,
There are snakes and scorpions.
we have been stripped of our illusions
and we are in the desert.
for God to speak.
Voice 1 - Turn these stones into bread.
Voice 2 - the instant solution.
the quick fix. If we just..if we just...
change our chairs, change our prayers, fix the roof.
Then everything will be lovely.
Voice 1 - The tempter said. Go on. Turn these stones into bread
Voice 2 - bread. like the bread used to be, in the old days...
in a warm hearth in Nazareth.
It was so good then. I can almost smell the yeast.
A quick-fix and they’ll all come back.
Voice 1 - But it is written. You can’t live by bread alone.
Voice 2 - We need more than that. In this desert planet.
Voice 1 - Every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Living God, we need you here, to tell us what to do.
Feed us with your words, we are hungry!
Show us the next step. How to be your church in this
As we sit in the sand and try to hear you.
Voice 1 - And the tempter said. Look. Here are all the kingdoms of the world. I’ll give you all of this. If you just worship me.
Voice 2 - Yes. Maybe that would be easier.
Maybe we should give up. And join the others.
Worship at (insert name of shop) , religiously.
Or (insert musician), or (insert computer giant), or (insert bank),
I believe in the Holy Catalog Church.
Voice 1 - You can have it all. Worship me.
Voice 2 - Everything we’ve ever wanted.
At a price. But that price would be too high.
Voice 1 - Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.
Voice 2 - Who else can we turn to.
You’re the one who gives us life.
And though we may we walking in the wilderness.
You are here with us.
Let us glimpse a burning bush somewhere on the way.
This is a lonely planet.
Voice 1 - He will command his angels. They’ll protect you. You needn’t even stub your toes.
Voice 2 - Our attendance is plummeting but we needn’t fear
the angels will catch us.
Someone else will fix it. We’ll leave it up to them.
An evangelist with a funny name, or the parish next-door.
This desert is too difficult. So maybe I’ll just sleep.
Voice 1 - Jesus answered the tempter. Do not put the Lord your God to the test.
Voice 2 - Jesus Help us.
Its hard to find the energy. When the sand pushes against us.
When we stumble in the wilderness. When we can’t see the way.
When the old signposts have disappeared
And all we have are sand-dunes.
But we know...
We can’t do a quick-fix
We can’t give up
We can’t leave it to someone else.
Voice 1 - Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit returned.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.
Because he has anointed me.
To bring good news to the poor.
Voice 2 - Good news came from out of the desert.
There is good news.
God has brought us here to hear it.
And God will lead us
To the Promised Land.