On Thursday 27th June we welcomed Stephen Burns, Coordinator of Ministry Studies, Pilgrim Theological College, and Professor of Liturgical and Practical Theology, University of Divinity to lead us in a conversation in response to the question ‘Why worship?’

He began by sharing his fascinating journey from England to his current teaching position.  Stephen then told us about a movie ‘Il Postino’ in which the resident poet invites the postman to learn how to describe things by listening to the sounds of the island. He invited us to talk about the words we would use to describe the sounds of worship at Brunswick.

Stephen shared his first two responses to ‘Why worship?’. It is both our opportunity to respond to God’s invitation to be loved and to struggle together to side with the light in a world that is troubled. Through our time together Stephen made many references to the service he attended when Jacob was baptised, to the feel of what he experienced, the movement, the engagement of everyone in the act of worship. Stephen affirmed the shape of worship which we closely follow – gathering, word, table, sending, and talked about the historic and ecumenical context of what we do. He spoke of breath and gesture, rituals and symbols. He illuminated the word liturgy for us explaining that liturgy is ‘of the people, for the people’. It is not about “the person up front”, or about the words that the liturgist writes or offers. It is about the engagement of the gathered congregation in the act of worshipping together (of the people). It is also something that we also do that leads us out to serve people outside the walls of our church (for the people). A helpful word he used was ‘communalisation’. How can we engage the whole congregation in worship? An example of how we do that at BUC is the way the children are involved in enthusiastically sprinkling the congregation with water during the remembrance of our baptisms. One major topic of discussion (prompted by a question emailed by someone who couldn’t attend) was the nature of confession during worship, which led us to reflect on how we understand that part of our worship service as a way of reminding ourselves and responding to equality in the world and how we have benefitted from structures that oppress others. Plenty of food for thought.

This fascinating two way conversation  proved to be a very interesting evening which paves the way for the two practical worships coming up in July.

See the links to the recordings from Stephen’s introduction and the conversation on this page.

Saide Cameron