Tuesday, June 18, 2013

GPS Worship

A couple of great stories have gone up on the Fresh Expressions site, one of a Car Boot Fair church - something I've long wondered about for Yeovil but not done much about - and one for Geochurche. I only heard of  'geocaching' when a church member explained it to me a few weeks ago, and loved the creativity of turning it into a spiritual pursuit in the Peak District:

There is a considerable, weekend population taking part in everything from mountain-biking and rock climbing to rambling, canoeing and… geocaching. This involves people searching for hidden things, or 'caches', by using Ordnance Survey grid coordinates. It's like treasure hunting, with participants using their smartphones, GPS (Global Positioning System) tracking devices or traditional maps to find a series of caches as part of a wilderness 'adventure'.

What we plan to do with Geochurche is to hide elements of a service - including prayers and meditations - in pods/caches around the Peak District on routes that can be used by walkers and mountain bikers. The grid coordinates for the 'hidden treasure' will then be shared on our website - along with a final reference point and time for a 'meet'
This gathering in the wilderness will include opportunity to think about what it has been like to share in such an experience. This will not be the same for everyone as we will set it up in such a way so that different people will access different pods, depending on the time and mode of transport they use - and not everyone will be able to find them. This will hopefully lead to time for reflection on our spiritual journey, some songs around the fire and a sharing of bread and wine.
I was recently discussing the first half of Pauls letter to the Romans with a group, and someone commented that it was a very dense, theological letter with not a lot of imagery and application. It struck me that, yes, that's how we read it, but in Pauls day it would have been image-rich. For us, terms like redemption, adoption, sin offering have all become technical theological terms. In 50AD (or whenever) they were daily realities, images drawn from everyday life. 
We wondered aloud what theological terms we might coin if we were drawing on imagery from early 21st century technology and society. The gospel, and the church, need continuous retranslation into the culture, and a lot of that will simply mean experiments. So I really hope Geochurche works, but even if it doesn't, there'll be valuable translation lessons. 

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