“This is my church.
This is where I heal my hurts
God is a DJ.”
The scene is not a church or cathedral, but a huge warehouse of an arena, packed with people of all different ages, juggling pints of beer in plastic glasses, taking photos with mobile phones and “bouncing” with arms waving ecstatically in the air. The music is loud and strobe lights pulse with the rhythm of the beat. An image gradually builds up across the light bank that forms the backdrop of the stage. Deborah thinks the image is a huge church or cathedral. I interpret it as skyscrapers forming a cityscape. Either way on the words “God is a DJ” the lights explode with a flash of sudden revelation.
After such a call to worship and time of praise, then comes the sermon, a powerful prophetic and poetic oratory, “misinformation… racism… fear… greed… inaction is a weapon of mass destruction”, underscored by moving words of light proclaiming the shocking world statistics of injustice and oppression and cost to human lives.
Then comes stillness and confession as we are humbled and challenged with the words of Salva Mea, “How can I change the world if I can’t even change myself?”
We are then invited to participate in a congregational sharing of a vision of how things could be, a vision of the kin-dom, “We come one” “Christian and Muslim, We come one…. Beneath the skin we are all the same, We come one”.
At the end, the skinny bare-chested, middle-aged singer/rapper bows low, not so much to the congregation but to something greater or deeper or maybe the divine image within, and sends us out with words of profound thanks and blessing, exhorting us to honour ourselves and each another and build a different kind of world.
Is this not the message of Advent hope that John the Baptist proclaimed a long way from the synagogue or temple hall? Is this not a glimpse of the Dancing Scarecrow? The poet, prophet and priest?
Maybe I should explain? Last Saturday, having spent most of the day preparing the Advent service for the next day on the theme of John the Baptist, we went, along with around 20,000 other people to see the misnamed Faithless live in concert at the MEN arena in Manchester.