I gave a retreat last Saturday at Grace Episcopal Church in Oak Park with Dennis Northway, the parish musician, called "Worship! Engaging the whole spirit" for the choir and worship team. As always, it was fun working with Dennis. The people at Grace were very responsive and enthusiastic. A great group.
I led movement for non-dancers, opening people up to the movement possibilities in worship in a very non-threatening way. It wasn't "dance." Dennis was really impressed by how I got some very unlikely people moving, and the choir may try doing some VERY simple steps in their processions as a result.
I began by asking everyone simply to walk around the sanctuary as I told a story that evoked different emotions. I asked them to notice how those emotions affected their walking. Someone said that the exercise evoked all the thoughts that are going through people's heads as they come to worship.
Then, we talked about how, as worship leaders, our bodies communicate during worship and what we'd like our bodies to convey: "alert" and "open" were the two words that came up. So, we tried standing in ways that are alert and open, and I gave some tips based on my dance experience on how to do that.
Anastasia Black from St. James the Less also brought up not drawing attention to yourself. This was a good point and I wish I had spent a little more time unpacking it. It's one of those zen things. Everyone is looking at you, but you don't want to draw attention to yourself? How do you do that?? I think of it as being a conduit for the Holy Spirit. It's not about me, but the Holy Spirit moving through me. My hope is that when people see me, they see right through me to the Holy Spirit.
I was very excited about this workshop and hope to do more workshops for worship leaders. Increasing body awareness and movement awareness among worship leaders is important in and of itself and it can lead to more movement in worship so that people pray with their whole bodies.