Communicate! (New Year/Jan 23)
New Year/January 2023 (1 - 28 Jan). See the Resource Pack PDF for information on the weekly subthemes and the daily prompts and Bible readings which shape our Daily Worship. See the Bible Study Questions PDF to see the material adapted for small Connect groups or personal Bible study.
We humans speak volumes!
Words, gestures, expressions, signs, body language, dance, pictures, rhythm, sighing, silences… we humans speak volumes… and constantly. There are myriad ways of communicating with one another and with God. Over time we tend to develop habits for how we pray, worship, sing, or generally express ourselves to God and each other. There is a richness in these repeating patterns, of saying words handed down through the years or walking in the same steps as our ancestors, but we can also sometimes end up ‘checking out’. We can find ourselves no longer really communicating, simply going through the motions with no connection.
Because often, as Marshall MacLuan famously said, the medium is the message! It’s not just a matter of what we say to God and to one another, it’s how we say it. Established, enriching life-giving traditions are a great way of communicating if they are expressed in an enriching and life-giving way. If we’re half asleep, zoned out and shutting down… not so much. What sparked the original tradition is no longer coming alive if we are just ticking the boxes.
There are so many ways of communicating with God and that’s fantastic. Sometimes we have prioritised particular ways over others as habits change. It’s worth remembering that while we can tune out by just thoughtlessly repeating ourselves we can also miss the point by chasing novelty and excitement at the expense of communicating. A case of all noise and no signal.
When someone’s worship, their way of communicating to God, is strikingly different to ours we can get caught up in the differences. Rather than wondering if they’ve found new ways of saying the same things, we get suspicious and assume they’re saying something different. God loves humanity and wants us to be diverse and varied. It is brilliant that there are countless ways we can communicate with God and many ways God can communicate with us (not least of all through Communion!) and the key is keeping open and heartfelt in how we respond to divine love.
So this month, at the start of a new year, we want to explore what happens when we refocus on the communication itself — not the what of being and doing church but the how. Faith is like sharing a story, or a telling joke, or singing a song — it’s not just a matter of remembering all the details, getting everything in the right order, and hitting the notes. Timing, expression, delivery, phrasing, pauses — it’s all part of it. Our faith needn’t be a technically proficient but soulless masterpiece. God delights in the heartfelt running up and down of the keys, honestly played and expressed.
When we pray God doesn’t sit there with a notepad transcribing everything and scrolling on his phone in the bits when we’re not ‘talking'. God listens to the pauses and the silences, too. Like a good friend — who can instantly tell when you’ve had good news or bad news before you even open your mouth — but even more so, God knows you.
So we have been on a journey these last three months — looking back on our Legacy of Hope, being in the present and Finding Time in the here and now through the timeless season of Advent, and now at the start of a new year we look to the future thinking about how we can take what we’ve learned and Communicate!
Expressing ourselves to God and each other
SETTING THE SCENE: We are continuing to experiment with having a visual/multi-sensory motif for each week. The idea is that this word provides a wee focus point for preparing services or multimedia inspired by the material. It is not intended to be restrictive and is simply a suggestion to combine with the theme prompts to inspire creative responses.
SEEDS TO SOW: We also have an additional Seeds to Sow phrase. These are open-ended and optional and again are designed for people wanting to develop their own resources in response to the material. Perhaps you could use these prompts to inspire a time of prayer, or drawing, or creative writing? They short and sweet, simply a starting off place for you and your imagination, be encouraged to tailor and develop as suits you. Often they take the form of a question, to encourage reflection.
Each week of the four week theme runs Sunday-Saturday and has its own subtheme, which contains daily Bible readings and prompts for thought (see the Resource Pack PDF for more information). See the Bible Study Questions PDF to see the material adapted for personal Bible study or small Connect groups.