one of the very best things at greenbelt this year was the bluegrass eucharist service by house for all sinners and saints. they were scheduled up against headline act royksopp, so i had to make a choice of solidarity - i feared they wouldn't get many takers. how wrong i was! they filled the venue and turned 100 away.
and the service was marvellous. singing's a funny thing. so often it's no more than half-hearted mumbling, and some alt worship groups have given up altogether rather than drag an unwilling congregation through the motions. and yet - if you get the style and the songs and the mood right, the results are astounding and transcendent. why did hundreds of people sing so lustily songs that they barely knew printed in that stave-with-words-below format that's so hard to follow? i guess it's one of those things where numbers really do make a difference - the more voices there are, the better it sounds and the more people want to join in. and the style of the music is so cheerfully singable - large chunks of the liturgy were also sung, but what a contrast to the classicising formality of the standard church of england version! the liturgy and music were created by kent gustavson, published as 'light into the world: hope for a new day' and available from amazon or kentgustavson.com.
oh, and the sermon was great too. some people at grace feigned shock that i should praise a sermon, but as with singing, what works, works!
i captured as much footage as my camera would hold. first up, pastor nadia bolz-weber introduces the service with some references to the current swine-flu rules - no common cup, servers using hand gel etc - all of which will be subverted by the general hand-shaking and hugging of the peace!
nobody wanted to leave at the end, so the last couple of hymns are really an encore.