Encounter Worship - Jan 31, 2019

Some highlights from the experimental "encounter" service.

I picked the theme of the temple curtain, inspired by Peter Rollins’ book “The Divine Magician”. Check it out if you haven’t; it’s great. The idea is, to simplify and summarize, that we focus our attention on the curtain, while there’s nothing behind it. Keeping the curtain up, and focusing our attentions and faith on that, allows us to not deal with the emptiness behind it. So I wondered if I could run with the idea of “projecting” onto a curtain the things we assume about faith, and making, in creative ways, representations of the rigid, but brittle, things of faith that we focus on but can break under examination.

The first station was very literal “projecting on the curtain”. I used the wood frames my dad made, with a white, muslin sheet, and projected an old-school overhead projector behind it. Then I put out a table with clear overheard transparencies, and a few that had the outlines of an icon on it. I knew that some might want the blank slate to fill in the things they project onto God, but others would need some help. They all chose to fill in existing ones with sharpies. And when they were done I simply put the art on the overhead for all to see. My initial vision was that I would stack all the transparencies to show how we “pile on” our projections, but everyone wanted to see theirs clean. Adapt.

The second station was something I’ve done before, and I didn't come up with the idea. It’s to take colored paper, preferably bright, and fold it into quarters, and cut around the edges, like you did in school with paper snow flakes. Then you could write your prayers on them, and hang them up on the line. Again, it looks cool, and it gives you a way to think about your prayer before just saying it.

I also put up a basic table with butcher paper and clay (I didn’t get a picture), and that was used a lot.

In the back were old canvasses that we painted over. One was made into a fire, the way God’s presence in the wilderness, before the tabernacle was built, was a pillar of fire by night. The temple has no windows, nor did the old tabernacle, so the artist thought of God’s presence in the permanently dark holy of holies as being like a fire in the dark.

For the main wall I put up a simple table with candles, and ran some video loops behind it.

Rex Garcia came by and played his original, digital music that he plays at the clubs and raves, and that provided the musical background to the whole service. Super cool stuff.

The service had a bit of an order.

Intro – welcome (by me)


Reading of scripture

Exodus 25:1-8

Exodus 26:31-37

A little message by me (5 minutes, maybe) explaining the tabernacle, temple, God’s presence, the curtain and holy of holies.

Video by Peter Rollins

Then we went off to create.

At the end we came back and had a little closing liturgy.

A little sharing (optional)

Reading of the passion – the tearing of the temple curtain Luke 23:33-47


What does it mean to lose the things that once anchored your faith?

Can one find God behind the curtain?

Closing prayer

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