Tomorrow I am leading the candidates at Perth Theological Hall in a workshop on the topic, "Worship in Non-Traditional Settings". In preparing for this, I had to work out exactly what tack to take. The approach is very much determined by how you define 'worship', 'traditional' and 'setting'. After going around in circles for a while, I decided to concentrate on the unusual worship requests that I have received from people over my few years in ministry.
When I started listing scenarios to use as case studies, I found I had an amazingly varied list. I asked myself what it was about these situations that compelled people to mark them with worship. Some of the situations were about healing, some about blessing, some about new beginnings and some about saying goodbye. All of them were crossroads or transitions in the people's lives. Our society has very few rites of passage and the most common way to mark transitions seems to be with a party. Weddings and funerals seem to be the most accepted occasion for anything more formal.
In other cultures, there are numerous examples of rites of passage that help young people to transition into adulthood or enable people to 'find' themselves. I believe there is a great need for ceremony to mark transitions in life. People are reluctant to request such services, but when they do it can lead to wonderful healing and transformation. The worship experiences that people have requested at these times in their lives have been some of the most challenging to prepare, but some of the most rewarding to conduct.
What major transitions have there been in your life? How did you mark them?