Liturgy is powerful stuff – and seldom more than on Ash Wednesday. No matter what words are used at the Imposition of Ashes, I always hear ‘Remember O Man that thou art dust .. and unto dust shalt thou return.’ Much of the liturgy which I meet day in day out seems to me to have lost the capacity to have that impact. It’s nobody’s fault – often just the inevitable product of the search for accessibility and the desire to project warmth and friendliness. I’ve often worshipped at those altars. But there is more – as the first of our Nine Marks of Mission suggests when it speaks of ‘Worship which renews and inspires’

I had a bit of time to think about these things last night as we sat in the company of a small congregation in Perth Concert Hall listening to the Michaelangelo Quartet playing Beethoven. What the audience gets is music played by people who obviously delight in what they are doing – why else would they be doing it far from home on a snowy night for a small audience in Perth. Delight and total commitment. And the intimacy and the unity in which they do enables concepts of space and time to bend – and they use the music to create meaningful and usable silence. It’s infinitely nuanced and subtle and therefore moving in a way which defies explanation. And that it seems to me is much of what worship should be about but seldom is …

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