Ancient Future Worship

You enter the worship space and are immediately struck by the unique atmosphere — the sanctuary warmly lit by candles, ambient music plays quietly in the background, photographs and artwork are projected on a screen. The sacred space is comfortable and quiet, an atmosphere that encourages meditation and prayer. A bell rings, a welcome is given — the worship gathering has begun.

Throughout a Mysterium gathering many different things happen, but not at a frantic pace, nor in a way that insists on participating in a certain manner. Short meditative songs are sung, times of silence are observed, discussion on the theme is invited, the mystery of the Eucharist is shared, incense fills the air, blessings are given, and always people are encourage to move about the sacred space to one of the places of response.

There are elements of ancient ritual in what happens at Mysterium: the form the worship takes, some of the words used, the celebration of Communion, the giving and receiving of blessings.

There are elements of future-looking imagination: the use of projected artwork and photographs, the opportunity for creative response, the consideration of a variety of relevant themes, the quiet presence of ambient music.

Mysterium is worship that is experiential, one that engages all the senses, that involves the whole person. Mysterium is worship for people of all ages, and from all walks of life. All are welcome — come and experience Mysterium for yourself.

A First Time Experience of Mysterium

By Marg Roth

We had little expectations of what it would be but we did know the people of God at Christ Lutheran: they would reflect their boundless creativity and inspiration and we were willing partakers.

Cross and RibbonsBefore entering the glass doors we were invited to take a candle and choose a cup, a china cup. I can.t recall hearing the reason for the cup, but we entered carrying our lighted candle and our china cup!

As I entered the sanctuary, it felt truly like a sanctuary, a “place set apart as a refuge”, calm, truly serene, and as I placed my flickering candle, I noticed them everywhere.

I was moved by the number of young adults participating. Are they also seeking a deeper dimension in their lives?

The visual presentation of the Mystery of Creation was almost like a sacrament. Vivid images! It brought to memory my childhood country – the centers of sunflowers, a wasp’s nest, pineapples. Why am I still so surprised by God’s intricate plan. Encounters with nature makes Jesus so real and present.

Silence broke silence, An eastern type sounding device breaks the silence to announce a time of silence.

Candles flicker. Chanting. Chanting, repetitions, no pages to look for, words in front of us. Peace — no stress. That’s grace. Chanting — transforming. Was I in some old cathedral. Chanting — Repetition — Peace.

I shall not soon forget the communion. EVERYONE was invited. No hurry. No rush. Bread given and I looked at my choice of cup as I held it up for wine. I had chosen a dogwood cup. As a child, I remember the legend of the dogwood, the tree on which Jesus was crucified. Truth or legend, I pondered his suffering and horrible death — Jesus. blood cleansing my soul — Forgiveness in the midst of chanting, flickering candles and incense. No hurry. No rush. Just a climate of tranquility. Time not only to ask but LISTEN. There was much more to Mysterium but now a confession, I am a little hesitate to make. An unfocused, serendipitous being who enjoys the tyranny of busyness (for the most part) has always felt meditating is for my friends at St. Michael.s or anywhere like that, not for ordinary folk like me — but since I am cramming for my finals, it may be time to find a rationale to “Be still and Know”.

Will Mysterium replace Sunday Worship for me? No, it is just another awe-inspiring form to worship the God I love mentioned in Psalm 39. I am moved to worship a new way, then surely Jesus will boldly give me a fresh way to touch and to share the stories of Jesus. In gratitude step by step, I am drawn closer to Him.


Dennis Preaching

By Pastor Dennis Hendricksen

Mysterium began with a dream, or perhaps it was a vision. Very early in the morning on Sunday July 24, 2005 I found myself wide awake. Since I was about to lead two worship services later that day I knew I needed to get back to sleep. Waking up in the middle of the night is not a common occurrence for me, I wondered how I could settle my mind so I could fall back to sleep. I remembered a technique for such occasions that my wife told me she uses — she would pray, offering intercessions on behalf of all the people she could think of. By focussing her mind on prayer her thoughts would stop spinning around and soon she would be back asleep.

So I began to pray, thinking of all the people in my congregation and life that were struggling with various concerns, saying a silent prayer for each of them. After a while of this I began to drift off when suddenly, in my mind’s eye, was picture of a worship time, an image so completely formed that it startled me into full consciousness again. I remember thinking “this is some interesting stuff, I’ll have to remember it when I get up.” As I began to make a mental check list of all the things that were part of that vision I soon realised I had better get up right then and write it all down — there were simply too many details to trust I would remember everything later. So I got out of bed, went down to my office, fired up the computer and proceeded to type a page and a half of notes. With that accomplished I went back to bed, and fell fast asleep.

Later that day, when I went back to read what I had typed early in the morning I was amazed at how everything seemed to make sense and fit together. There were some elements that could be attributed to my worship experiences at places like the Qu’appelle House of Prayer, or various Youth Gatherings I’ve been part of, but much of what I had seen in my mind’s eye was unique. Over the next number of weeks I talked about these things with some creative and gifted people from my congregation. Their conversations affirmed in me the need to put this Mysterium worship experience together.

Through my reading and dialog with others I came to understand that Mysterium could be described as Emergent Worship — a new form of worship that blended ancient and future elements. This was made clear when I read Dan Kimball’s book Emerging Worship which described much of what I had come to believe Mysterium was to be. Since then I have read many books and explored many websites about experiential worship, incorporating the relevant learnings from these sources into the formation of Mysterium.

Right from the very beginning I knew that if Mysterium was to happen it would require a team of creative people working together. I put the word out, and was delighted by the enthusiastic response of people who are now part of the Mysterium Team. This group continues to explore how Mysterium can improve and expand. It is a process, it is a journey, it is an unfolding mystery.

Serving Communion