Scratch Liturgy

Creativity here we come

No this is not about getting rid of liturgy – this a very creative idea from my friends Chrissie and Gerard Kelly at Bless in France is about a collaborative effort in creating liturgy

scratch a collaborative liturgy with your friends or small group…

1. Write a communal refrain to speak out together. For example,

‘this is our story. this is our song. praising our Saviour. all the day long’

2. Come up with a one-line framework for people to ‘scratch’ around. For example,

‘Because He is (something), I am (something)’

3. On a flip chart or live projection write out numbers 1 to 5 followed by the communal refrain. Followed by numbers 6 to 10 and the refrain again and so on.

4. Invite participants to take it in turn ‘scratching’ a one-line prayer using your framework

5. Read the scratch liturgy aloud together

Example scratch liturgies can be found here and here.

All Glory Laud and Honour – Traditional Hymn for Palm Sunday

The traditional hymn for Palm Sunday is All Glory Laud and Honor. I love to parade around the church waving palm fronds and singing these beautiful words. I thought that those of you who are unfamiliar with this hymn might appreciate this version with the lyrics provided. And for those of us that are familiar with it there is never any harm in getting a little practice.

A response to What is Worship – Ron Skylstad

Today’s post comes from Ron Skylstad  from the Grunewald Guild.  It was first posted yesterday on the Guild blog Scriptorium 



Yesterday Christine Sine posted some thoughts on her blog in a post entitled“What is Worship?” In it she talks about a blog series she hosted over the summer about worshipping God in the real world…and admits that she was a bit disappointed with the response she received from people:

Most of the posts were about traditional spiritual practices like praying and singing hymns in the midst of everyday life.  Now don’t get me wrong, I think that these are very important, but what I was really hoping for were more contributions that unpacked the ways that we can worship God through ordinary everyday acts of life like taking a shower, walking in the park and even reading the newspaper.

She goes on to discuss that we have a really difficult time thinking outside of the proverbial box, but that we need to in order to take church/worship outside the boxes of tradition we have confined them to.  ”To do so,” Christine says, “we must constantly encourage our worship leaders to become worship curators….  Unfortunately this is never easy because it means we also need to take theology outside the boxes in which we have placed it.”  She then asks to hear thoughts regarding these topics, about how we move our understanding of worship outside the church box and into the world.

Now this is something I think about and practice quite often, especially because I’m not all that musically inclined.  Granted, I was in a concert choir for 8 years and I took a guitar class, and I have a wealth of information in my brain about musical groups and the stories behind songs…but I couldn’t play guitar and sing at the same time to save my life.  I can’t keep a steady rhythm going for more than a handful of beats.  I LOVE music…but creating it is not my gift.

This serves as somewhat of a ‘wrench in the cogs’ when music is the primary medium through which worship is done in the church.  This is most likely because music is one of the only art forms the church has considered “safe,” and it’s a form in which it is fairly obvious to figure out how other people in the church body can participate (i.e. sing along).  As I said above: music is a deeply rooted and integral part of my life…but it’s not by any means my primary form of worship.

Worship for me happens during the tending of my terrariums or while doing a water change in an aquarium, or snorkeling down in the river or at the lake.  And as I do so, the lines blur between the micro and the macro…the “inside” and the “outside.”  In that way these glass boxes of plants and fish and water serve as icons of prayer for me, leaping pads into the wider world and an awareness about ecosystems and our understanding/tending of them.


Office Terrarium at the Grunewald Guild lovingly tended by Ron Skylstads

Worship for me is rarely accompanied by music, save the notes and melodies of pure awe, wonder and mystery that accompany such experiences.  It is a form of prayer without words, a form of prayer that focuses on being in God’s presence and saturated with the sacredness of such a resplendent creation.

Maybe the next age of worship leaders won’t be musicians or performance majors…or even be found on a stage.  Maybe they’ll be elbow-deep in a compost pile or hundreds of feet above the ground exploring canopy ecosystems or have a sweaty brow as they prepare jar upon jar of preserves to give purely as a gift to those in the neighborhood.

That would perhaps be a more true liturgy (“work of the people”) than many of us currently experience during a Sunday morning service.

Perhaps the next worships leaders–if we have eyes to see them and ears to hear then–will act more as field guides to the wild world we inhabit, pointing out the thin places of creation and helping us become aware of the bushes burning all around us.

What if churches incorporated living walls inside or outside of their buildings?  What if, near sanctuary vessels of water for people to dip their fingers into, the element was balanced by an aquarium of local fish species which served as a reminder of watershed health and our “neighbors” which aren’t, in fact, human but to whom we are still called to care for…that, as Thomas a Kempis wrote, “If thy heart were right, then every creature would be a mirror of life and a book of holy doctrine.  There is no creature so small and abject, but it reflects the goodness of God.”

What if the outside properties of our churches were used to their maximum potentials?  Apiaries in the corner…bat boxes beneath the eaves…espaliered fruit trees on the outside walls…vermiculture bins near the dumpster that children help tend and turn over, and red crawlers that they get to take home to start their own at the end of VBS.  What if our worship leaders were those who set up aquaponics systems in the unused and neglected portions of church basements, composing mid-winter meals of basement grown greens and tub-raised tilapia?

What if children learned first-hand about the abundance of creation during Sunday School by collecting eggs from the church’s chicken flock, and the youth group learned about building community by delivering baskets of eggs to those in the neighborhood?  What if the next generation of church leadership and renewal learned how to worship through simply sitting on a bench in the park or training grapevines along a fence or watching bats flutter in the dusk of summer?

And what if, rather than pushing out one dogma/practice completely out of the way for another one, we were instead able to fuse a variety of formats and methods and practices together in our exploration of worship?

These may be tough questions for churches as they all require the taking of chances, the exploration of new ways and new methods, new experiences and the willingness to retell some of our stories in different ways than we have before.  They require not only thinking “outside of the box” but, perhaps in standard Matrix fashion, for us to question whether or not there is actually a box to begin with…that there even exists a division between the “sacred” and the “mundane.”



What is Worship?

Alternative worship - infinite creativity, transformation possible

Alternative worship - infinite creativity, transformation possible

I hosted a blog series over the summer on worshipping God in the real world.  To be honest I was a little disappointed with the response  Most of the posts were about traditional spiritual practices like praying and singing hymns in the midst of everyday life.  Now don’t get me wrong, I think that these are very important, but what I was really hoping for were more contributions that unpacked the ways that we can worship God through ordinary everyday acts of life like taking a shower, walking in the park and even reading the newspaper.

This week I have really gotten into Mark Pierson’s book The Art of Curating Worship .  One of Mark’s motivations for developing the art of worship curation was his desire to connect the worship experience that occurs inside the church on Sunday with his everyday life.  He talks about the need to:

develop an ability to see the stuff of ordinary life – stuff going on in the culture around your community – and bring it into the worship event in ways that enhance the ability of the the worshippers to engage with God with heart, soul, mind and strength.

As I read this I realized that asking people to view ordinary everyday aspects of life as worship is almost impossible when we have never before brought ordinary daily acts into a worship context.  Worship services need to be transformed in the ways that Mark talks about so that our lives outside the church can be transformed into living acts of worship.

You may think this is rather strange, but reflecting on these thoughts this morning reminded me of Peter Seeger’s song Little Boxes which I have added at the bottom of this post as a possible meditation point.  It seems to me that we do indeed live in little boxes – there is the worship box of Sunday morning which some can be as limited as the songs we sing, for others it embraces the liturgy of the service but for most of us it ends the moment we step outside the building.  Outside is the life box with houses made of ticky tacky, and lives all the same – whether we go to church or not.

We must learn to take our worship outside the church box and do so we must continue to take church outside the boxes of tradition we have wanted to confine it in.  To do so we must constantly encourage our worship leaders to become worship curators just like Mark suggests.

Unfortunately this is never easy because it means we also need to take theology outside the boxes in which we have placed it.  As Mark comments:

A worship event should never be about theological purity.  It should always be about ordinary people engaging their messy selves with the transformative person of the God who became flesh and lived in this messiness.

And that for me is where worship and the real world connect.  As we take worship outside its boxes we become more sensitive to the presence of God in every ordinary mundane act of life and eventually all of life becomes worship to God.  Would love to hear your thoughts on this.  How do you think we move our understanding of worship outside the church box and into the world?



Worshipping God in the Real World – Dodging Forks and Other Parenting Highlights by Penny Carothers

Today’s post in the series Worshipping God in the Real World is contributed by Penny Carothers.  Penny is the Social Justice Editor for the Burnside Writers Collective.  In between washing diapers and trying to make her kids laugh she is working on a book chronicling her mother’s descent into mental illness, some of which you can find on her blog.  You can also find her on twitter, and in the kitchen, on a quest to bake the perfect cake.  This post first appeared on her blog Hearing Voices under the title Dodging Forks and other Parenting Highlights


“I’m not going to be your friend any more!”

My daughter, four, is rolling away from me, her platinum hair a tangled veil as she kicks her legs to fend off the pants I am trying to pull up her squirming legs.

“I know you’re upset that you can’t play with your Legos anymore, but it’s time to go to lunch.”  I say, hovering over her, using my superior size to push her legs into one pantleg.

She kicks harder.  Her jaw is set, her eyes hooded and dark.  “No!” she yells.

I sit back and take a breath.  I hate forcing her to do what I want.  Then I remember my old stand-by: when you want compliance, use humor.  I take her blush-pink pants and position the waistband around my head, like a hat.

“Oh, good,” I say, letting out my breath, as if in relief.  “Because I really like my new hat.”  I cup my chin and turn my head from side to side, showing it off.  “Don’t you like my new pink hat?”

Her expression shifts almost instantly.

“No!” she yells, but this time she is giggling.  She scrambles up on all fours and comes at me, grabbing for the legs that dangle on either side of my ears.  “That’s not your hat.  Those are my pants!”

While she clutches her pants to her chest I go for her socks.  “But what about my new mittens?  Don’t you like them?  Don’t they match my outfit perfectly?”  I too, am giggling now.

All of the energy Quinn was using just moments ago to defy my plans has been redirected to her smile and her laugh and her new task: putting on her clothes as fast as she can before I can steal them away.  I watched, amazed, as she dresses herself.  Moments later, she stands up, ready to go, a shy smile on her face.

* * *

Perhaps it’s heretical to say that I think I know how God feels sometimes, but that’s what parenting has done for me.  Like God, I could use my greater strength to force compliance, but I (hope I) never will.  Like God, I see my children’s world from above and that change has shifted my perspective dramatically.  As a child, I loved my parents because they loved me.  As a parent, I love my children simply because they exist.

And my children take advantage of this, of course.  They do maddening things.  They throw forks at me when all I’m trying to do is get them to eat the food that’s good for them.  They spit on the floor when I tell them they’ve had enough TV for the day.  (At least she’s not spitting at me, I tell myself.)  By the end of the day this kind of behavior wears me down, makes me wonder if I’m doing a good job raising these little beasts.  (Does God ever feel this way? I wonder.)  But deep down I know that my parenting skills have little to do with my daughter’s outbursts.  Her reactions to my limit-setting are developmentally appropriate.  The fact that she rebels means she is growing and developing a healthy sense of self.

It stuck me one day that perhaps God sees my tantrums in just this way.

I didn’t ask to be born!  This planet sucks.  What a terrible idea!  I yell at God, when I am overcome by the state of suffering in my world, and in the world in general.  Later, when the emotions have subsided, I am disappointed by my lack of trust.  When will you stop being so bratty? I ask myself.  What are you, a teenager?

Then I look into my daughter’s scowling face as I tell her it’s time to stop painting and wash up for dinner, and I have a blaze of insight.  Well, actually… maybe I am a teenager – a spiritual teenager.  When it comes to the maturity of my faith, maybe my reactions to life are developmentally appropriate.  I have a lot of growing up to do, and besides, God doesn’t expect me to take everything in stride if for no other reason than I don’t have His perspective.  Perhaps, perhaps, He even enjoys my spunk.  After all, He loves me, unconditionally, simply because I exist.  And He knows that no matter how much I protest, getting dressed and facing the day is something I need to learn how to do.  I bet, if given the chance, He’d even stick a pair of pants on His head teach me how.

Worshipping God in the Real World – Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life

Over the last couple of weeks I have been posting guest posts on the topic Worshipping God in the Real World: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life.  I am sorry that these have been rather sporadic because of my recent travels.  However for those who like to follow along either daily or in one fell swoop here is the series so far.

Worshipping in the Real World – Parenting with Soul by Sally Collings

Welcome all Doubters by Coe Hutchison

Living the Worship Driven Life – Steve Wickham

Faith Means Doubt – Thoughts from Thomas Merton

Worshipping God in the Real World – How To Encounter God in Everyday Life – K Zhang

Worshipping in the Real World – Reclaiming the Jubilee – Christine Sine

Worshipping in the Real World – God Sightings off Campus – Theresa Froehlich

I also thought that some of you would like to review the posts from my previous series on a similar theme: What is a Spiritual Practice

Reinventing the Wheel by Mark Buhlig part of Roadtrip Project

God of the Bountiful – A Harvest Prayer by Christine Sine

The Spirituality of the Long Distance Runner by Steve Fouch – The Spamhead Blog

The Spiritual Practice of Lament by Tracy Byrd Dickerson – Nacreous Kingdom

Spiritual Practices for Sitting In Front of the Screen – Lynne Baab

Thirsting for Coffee With God – A Very Spiritual Practice by Richard Dahlstrom – Pastoral Musings from Rain City

The Spirituality of Creating by John Chandler – Some Strange Ideas

Celebrations and Parties as a Spiritual Discipline by Kathy EscobarThe Refuge

The Spirituality of Drinking (Chinese) Tea by Andy Wade

Networking as Spiritual Practice by Steve Knight,

Mothering as a Spiritual Practice by Tara MaloufRed Thread Photography

Coloring as a Spiritual Practice by Danielle Grubb ShroyerJourney Church

Being Quiet as a Spiritual Practice by Eliacín Rosario CruzMustard Seed Associates

Settling In: Reestablishing Spiritual Practices in a New Place by Ed Cyzewski, author of Coffeehouse Theology

Civil Disobedience as Spiritual Practice by Jarrod McKenna

Running as Spiritual Practice by Luis Fernando BatistaRenovatio Cafe

How to Exercise Caution When Getting Back to Exercise by Adrienne Carlson

Playing Children’s Games as Spiritual Practice by Julie Clawson

Intergenerational Friendships as Spiritual Practice by David ZimmermanInterVarsity Press

Unemployment as a Spiritual Practice by Stephen Herbert

Editing Your Life: The Spiritual Discipline of Editing by Marcus Goodyear, The High Calling

Living in Transition as Spiritual Practice by Guy Chieleski

The Spiritual Practice of Apologizing by T Freeman

Love-making as a Spiritual Practice by Mark Scandrette

Smoking the Glory of God by Jason Clark

The Spiritual Practice of Getting Honest With Myself by Jonathan Brink

Spiritual Discipline–Serving at the Pantry by Maria Henderson

Yoga and Jesus: This is a Spiritual Practice by Christina Whitehouse-Sugg

Driving as Spiritual Discipline by Reverend Mother

Between the Sheets: Sleeping as Spiritual Discipline by Teri Peterson

Brigid Walsh – Gleaning as Spiritual Practice

Bowie Snodgrass – Grief as Spiritual Practice

Thomas Turner – Engagement as Spiritual Practice

Stan Thornburg – Making Space for the Rabbi

Gary Heard – Encountering the Stranger as Spiritual Practice and GPS Navigation as Spiritual Practice

Jason Fowler – Listening for God’s Voice in Music

Sheila Hight – Birdkeeping as Spiritual Practice

Steve Taylor – Composting as Spiritual Practice

John O’Hara – Anyone Can Cook – Spirituality in the Kitchen

Bethany Stedman – crying as a spiritual practice

Christopher Heuertz – Feeling close to God in the graveyard

Gerard Kelly – twittering as a spiritual practice –

Tim Mathis – blogging as as a spiritual practice

Mary Naegeli – Writing a sermon as spiritual practice

Hannah Haui – Cultural Protocol as spiritual practice

Jamie Arpin Ricci – Pet Ownership as spiritual practice

Matt Stone – Listening to Enemies as Spiritual Practice

Dan Cooper – Washing Dishes as Spiritual Discipline

Maryellen Young – The spiritual practice of taking a shower

virtual Eucharist: Is this a spiritual practice – Christine Sine

Is Breathing a Spiritual Practice – Christine Sine

Living the Worship Driven Life by Steve Wickham

Today’s post in the series Worshipping God in the Real World is contributed by Steve Wickham (BSc, FSIA, RSP [Aust], GradDipBib&Min) an online Christian minister and freelance author maintaining three blog sites (Epitome, ex-ceed and TRIBEWORK), posting daily to service a diverse readership. You can find his nearly 3,000 published articles

This article was first published on Epitome 


“Then say to [Pharaoh], ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness’.”  ~Exodus 7:16 (NIV).

Worshipping God is a whole-of-life experience of faith, the spending of ourselves in love, and earnest learning in wisdom. It’s probably a whole lot more to boot.

It’s certainly not confined to Sunday church services and prayer meetings.

How do we convert the typical endeavour of worship for God at church — a comparative ‘Egypt’ by confinement of location and activity — and take such worshipful endeavour out into the world; to the comparative ‘wildernesses’ of our workplaces, homes and communities?

Freedom of Worship

If we consider ourselves free only to ‘worship’ at church — or within safe Christian boundaries — then we probably have the wrong concept for what worship is.

Worship may be any activity where we’re able to glorify God via what we do and through what meagre (or mega) portion we, of our hearts, bring.

Living like Christ, whilst we’ll often fail to meet the Saviour’s standard, is the freedom of worship.

Note that Jesus was free to worship God in his literal wilderness experience (Matthew 4:1-11). Out in the world, far beyond the Temple, he was tempted three significant times by Satan. Jesus worshipped the Father via straightforward, wise obedience. His worship, at least in this setting, was nothing about readings in church or singing Hallels.

We too are free to express our worship, not only beyond the gates of our churches, but via an amazing array of activity.

The Vast Worshipful Expanse

God has created a very big place — the universe. Yet, no matter how big things get (the universe is ever-expanding in size) it’s a scientific and a miraculous fact that smallness is equally big. Nanotechnologies and the like prove God to be unfathomable regarding the legacy of expanse, both macro and micro.

God is a limitless Lord.

We can extend God’s expansive nature to the issue of worship; to the degree of variety of worshipful activity at our fingertips.

Anything done with love in our hearts fits this Divine mould.

Where we rise to the heights of righteousness, plumb the depths of humility, reach out our arms in the width of justice, and scour the breadth of God’s wisdom, we worship; to a trillion different nuances.

As we’re unique persons, each crafted at the masterstroke of the Lord’s design, uniqueness becomes the authenticity of our worship. Nobody will worship in the world like we, perhaps, can or do.

The Mission is to Worship: Worship IS Mission

The entire world we can touch is our ‘wilderness’ and the mission of God in our mortal bodies and minds is beyond Egypt (the physical church buildings we present at each Sunday).

Not that we can’t worship in Egypt; we can worship anywhere!

To consider ourselves as pleasing God by remaining in Egypt, however, when the wilderness is the way to the Promised Land, is ludicrous.

We must extend our worship to the farthest reaches of our conscious lives, for through our worshipful ways we experience God. We should yearn after God’s Presence these ways, desiring more and more infilling of the Spirit that gives life; and that, through us, so our worship truly glorifies God.

When we take the Purpose Driven Life model, connecting both ends — worship with mission — we can finally retain the beads — fellowship, discipleship and ministry — ending with a string of beads constructed toward Christlike completeness.

Our mission is to find our worshipful purpose in all our moments.