On Saturday, November 23, Jim Robertson curated (and largely created) a worship experience called Reign of Christ the King. This 'Feast Day', in Christian tradition, focusses on the rule of Jesus in the world. What does it mean to say Jesus is king of all, when so many don't even believe in his existence, and especially not his everlasting life? What does it mean to say God is still in control, in the face of Ferguson and Ebola and the middle east? It means a lot that is perhaps best understood beyond reason and rationale – beyond the brain and into the heart. Through image, sound, language, dance and practice.
All of these elements were brought together at St.Paul's Anglican Church on November 23, when dozens of us came together to create an experience for 'one night only'.
I can't describe what that kind of experience is like – when artists get the keys to church for an evening. But I can show you. And I will, in 13 pictures and a video.
When one walks into the room, there may be confusion. Surprise. 'What the ...?'
You've got a lot of explaining to do, Jim Robertson. Here, Jim does explain, and does it well, walking us through the evening's activities and sharing words from his deep well.
The gathering is split into times of singing and reading and listening and sharing together, as well as time for a short dance. Then there is the bulk of the evening, the 'fat middle' where we are on our own to wander through a series of stations. This station, at the back, invites participants to pick up chalk and write (or draw) answers to some guiding questions. Questions like 'What do you see when you see Jesus in others?"
A poem written for the evening by EmTee (and featured in the video below), peers into the various names for Christ. So does the installation piece above, acting as another worship station.
Rocks feature heavily in Jim Robertson's Interface Worship experiences. This display is my favourite. I'm not alone. I once heard Jim recall the incredible story of finding these rocks, years apart and yet two halves of one whole. Behold The Blessings of Brokenness.
Another favourite piece of mine, this station features a large stone, the 'stone the builders rejected' crowned with some very painful looking thorns. It is accompanied, as all the stations are, with a written reflection, either curated or written by Jim Robertson.
In one of the evenings first movements, the congregation each brings a carnation up to lay at the bottom of this beautiful wooden cross. At the bottom of the cross regal robes are draped. It forms a beautiful backdrop to the rest of our evening together, and at the end of the night we will surround this scene for Communion.
Light plays a big part in the evening, and so it should, as Jesus has declared himself Light of the World. I can't get enough of this retro star lamp. If Jim ever wants to get rid of this piece, he knows where to find me.
Interface Worship uses prayer bowls heavily. These liturgical objects are accompanied by written meditations and invoke images of prayers rising like incense, burning in bowls.
The Prodigal Son story forms part of our evening. We are embraced by the king. We are robed in his righteousness. These colourful robes are put on by the participants near the end of the evening, as we gather round for communion. The colours also evoke 'the lilies of the file' - lilies which remind us not to worry, because if God dresses those flowers so beautifully, won't he also care for you and I?
These vintage windows rotate, and as they do, the view through them changes. Reflects. Refracts. Windows for a few newer stations at the back of the room, and offer rich metaphors.
And what would the evening be without these beautiful fabrics hanging above? These colours are rich with liturgical symbolism, and set the stage perfectly for the evening experience. Always look up.
Can you smell those fresh carnations? A reminder that engaging all five senses is a powerful way to connect with God and one another.
The simplicity of candles in the dark remains a favourite image of mine from this evening. Here, a trinity of candles shines small and unassuming. So low I have to nearly lay on the ground to photograph them. But if the Reign of Christ the King matters anywhere it is here, in the dark and low places.
I hope that from those 13 strands you can weave together something of the whole. And if not, perhaps this video will help. And if not, there's always another nterface Worship experience ahead.