A hall full of young people. A band playing. People talking, texting, laughing. Tables strewn with paper, magazines, playdoh, markers, pens and pencils, pipe cleaners of all colours. This is Rideau Park U.C. on Saturday, October 26th when young people and their friends gathered from across Ottawa for The Point, the United Church’s seasonal youth worship service.
After singing, praying, and listening to St. Paul enumerate the fruit of the spirit in his letter to the Church in Galatia, the crowd split up and enthusiastically dove into all kinds of art-making.
At one table, a group coloured, cut and pasted, and sketched to create a huge banner. At another, busy hands worked with play-doh and pipe-cleaners to make colourful and inventive sculptures. At yet another table, a group of lyricists and musicians put their ideas to music.
Meanwhile, in a quiet room upstairs a dedicated gang of four wrote in silence, setting down their poetic response to the scripture.
And, in a noisy room downstairs, a larger gang laughed and improvised their way to a skit illustrating how some of these spiritual fruit might be found in a high school today.
After 40 minutes of preparation, the crowd came back together and finished their worship by sharing what they had created. Sculptures, drawings, poems and reflections, a banner, new music, drama; they were all there, all a part of responding to the words of the Bible.
Everyone was engaged, and everyone had fun. There was lots of laughter, and lots of off-topic teasing, but there was also lots of serious intellectual and imaginative engagement. (At one point, a member of the drama group exclaimed, “Listen, this is Paul, we’re dealing with neo-Platonism here, we need to get over it and move on.”)
It didn’t look, sound or feel much like ‘church,’ and that didn’t matter at all. What mattered is that, for a couple of hours on a cool autumn evening, a group of young people engaged their minds and imaginations in a creative conversation with the great story of the Christian faith. Judging by the chatter as they left, they didn’t find it boring at all!