(Adapted from an East London-Eastern Cape ecumenical service on gender based violence) This prayer of anger, confession and intercession
Welcome to the Re-Imagining Worship Project of Council for World Mission. It is the answer to a long-held dream of the Council for World Mission (CWM). When CWM decided to name Empire as the context of mission, we agreed that we should develop worship material to enable and support the people of God to offer this “most selfless emotion” to God in the context of Empire. We said then that dispassionate, lifeless and disinterested words will not embolden faith, expose false power and embrace the, with unmistakable and uncompromising clarity and devotion, the God of faithfulness and justice. This Project initiated with four workshops in Manila, Johannesburg, Kingston and Sicily.
There were about 120 Christian Pastors, students, scholars, artists and activists from more than 50 countries representing different Christian traditions, got together to learn how to worship God of Justice where people are suffering with violence, hunger, injustices and various forms of death.
Its content reflects the deep struggle and search of the people of God to find meaning in “Unexpected Places”. More importantly, the writers cause us to see the inextricable intertwining of worship with all of life. Here they present worship as wrestling with God in defiant determination, bearing their heart and soul in these litanies of lament, protest and praise; and confessing their allegiance to God and God alone. The songs and prayers in this volume are meant to inspire “the eyes of the heart” of the worshipping community to be “enlightened” (Eph. 1: 18, NIV); to deepen our faith in the God of life; and to fortify our spirits for renewed commitment to justice and peace as the lived expression of worship.
We are seeking to create alternative liturgical resources defying the logic of empire, build capacity of local congregations to develop and use life affirming Worship Resources, develop a network of Liturgists, Pastors, Scholars, Students, Artists, and activists and organise a global liturgical solidarity based on local religious rituals, liturgies and performances.
Through a process of engagement with real life situations a group of worshippers, students and leaders of worship spent time in contexts where people live in poverty and hopelessness; listened to stories of suffering and pain; contemplated the presence of God and the meaning of hope; and out of that incarnational experience, developed worship material to express true feelings of discontent with the world and conversation with God. This is true worship, the kind that springs from the bowels of discontent; anchors faith in the God of the risen Jesus; and calls forth commitment to resistance and transformative praxis.
We invite you to use these prayers / rituals /liturgies in your local congregations and also share your work here. Our goal is to create a vast collection of resources that anyone around the world can use.
I like to express our gratitude and thanks to Rev. Dr. Claudio Carvalhaes, Professor of Worship at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and my colleague Sudipta Singh for spearheading the project.
I celebrate this long-awaited platform and commend it as a resource to further enhance our understanding and enrich our worship.
Collin I. Cowan
Council for World Mission