As part of our service yesterday we had prayer stations incorporated into a time of silent prayer. My message was about 12 minutes long, and placed toward the beginning of the service. I think we can sometimes make all the other elements of worship a "warm up" to the "real" point of the service,the message/sermon/talk/whatever else you want to call it. So the message was really more of an effort to explain some things, and set up the rest of the service, so that the "meat" of the worship service was done by the actual people- praying and the imposition of ashes.
Here's some pictures of the stations. The first couple are of tackboards we covered in sackcloth and encouraged people to write down their response to some prompts we had given them. The prompts read:
1. What unresolved sin in my life needs to be confessed and repented of so that I can truly feel God's love for me just as I am?
2. What lies from our very affluent culture have I incorporated into my life, so that I no longer see them for what they truly are- IDOLS?
3. What seemingly good goals am I working toward, that have crept up from acceptable second place desires to first place priorities?
We then encouraged folks to write them down, and tack them up. We did not collect a monetary offering that night, but rather, the "rending of our hearts" was the offering.
The last one is a shot of our prayer stations, with scrolling scriptures on the screen and a kneeler so that people could meditate on the word and be in prayer.
I hope it's clear that the point of these isn't just to be cool, or have something hip to put on my blog. If doing some more experiential orientated things made last night "emergent" then I guess we were. But the point isn't to be emergent, the point is to try and make set it up so that people can faithfully engage God.
I was so proud of our congregation- this was a little out of the ordinary for an Ash Wednesday service. The response was beautiful. Everyone from 5 year olds to 85 year olds were participants. It's so great to be a part of a congregation that doesn't just give youth 1 token Sunday a year to lead the service and do their best to put up with it, or think it's cute or something. (sorry to be so pessimistic)
So, as I have stolen from many people, please, use in your own context.