Imagine you are Job. What are you thinking, feeling, and experiencing as you live through the loss of your property and your family? How do you experience the grief and then the questioning of your friends? How do you relate to God?
Imagine you are the centurion watching yet another crucifixion. But this one is different . . . why? How does it feel to be forgiven by the one you have put to death? What do you make of the eerie darkness and the earthquake?
Imagine you are Mary. Your heart is crushed by the sight of your son dying. How do you bear it?
Imagine. If there is one thing that ties so many of the articles and resources in this issue together, it is their call to imagine—to “live into” what it would be like to be Job, the centurion, Mary.
Some people fear that using our imagination when we think about God’s story will pull us away from reality and truth. I believe that the Holy Spirit uses our imagination to lead us to reality and truth.
How can we even begin to understand the depth of God’s love for us without imagining what it would be like to give up our own child? As a parent I can only allow my imagination to ponder that question for a brief time before my heart swells in agony. Imagining that pain makes the reality of what God did for us in Christ that much more real.
How can we understand the pain that Christ endured on the cross if we don’t allow our imagination to ponder what it would feel like to have nails piercing our hands, to hear the hammers pounding as our feet are nailed? Imagination is what helps us enter the story, to put ourselves at the feet of the cross mocking the crucified or grieving a son’s horrifying death. If we can imagine that, we can begin to imagine the joy of seeing a loved one raised from the dead. And we can begin to anticipate the immense joy we will feel when Christ comes again and we are reunited with those we love.
In our postmodern context we hear much talk of the narrative and meta-narrative of our lives and the importance of story. As Christians we have the best story ever—a story in which all are welcome to play a part. But we need to help people enter into that story, to see themselves in it, to experience the greatness of their sin and the enormity of God’s grace.
In worship we must encourage imagination so that we can enter into the story. The words we say and sing, the aromas we smell, the sounds we hear, the things we touch, and the symbols we see are all tools to be employed so that we may enter into the story of God’s redemption.
As you read through this issue and make your plans for remembering the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord, consider how your congregation might enter into the story. Be imaginative! Make the story come alive so that we might all, in some way, experience the spiritual reality of our own death and resurrection.
The staff of Reformed Worship are busy imagining the future of RW—what the journal might look like, what additional resources might be included, and how we can best use technology to enhance it. We are grateful to those of you who have responded to our e-mail survey. If you did not receive the survey it means we do not have a current e-mail address on file for you. If you would like to be a part of such discussions or surveys in the future, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t miss the report on the imaginative work of the CRC/RCA hymnal committee found in the “News and Notes” section.
If you are looking for additional resources to help you plan worship that helps people discover their place in God’s story, consider those available through Faith Alive Christian Resources at www.faithaliveresources.org or at the websites of Reformed Worship (www.reformedworship.org) and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (www.calvin.edu/worship).