49 dead in a LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando. Black lives that don’t seem to matter nearly enough. 60 million refugees without a welcome. Transgendered rights under attack in North Carolina. Given all that’s happening in our world, we need opportunities to lament, reorient ourselves to God’s story, reconnect with hope and joy and remember that steaming piles of crap don’t get the last word.
That’s why we’re grateful for all the different kinds of opportunities to gather together with song and story, prayer, liturgy and communion at the Goose this year. From early mornings to midday to late night. All of them opening up space and time to see, hear, sing, move, and reach for the God whose other name is Love. And perhaps, even, re-vision how to follow the way of Jesus, and be love in our world again.
We’ll start the weekend on Thursday night with Stories & Blessings, led by Ana Hernandez, with Paula Williams, J.Kwest, and Rebecca Anderson. Beginning at 6:30 on our main stage, think of this as the opening invocation for the festival, but, of course, Wild Goose style…with music and story and sound and an open-heartedness that will open us all up, sort of like a deep breath after being underwater for too long.
Then Ken Medema and Jacqui Lewis will keep that spirit going, and kick it up a notch… or ten. Ken, a musician and storyteller who’s been performing worldwide for over 40 years, is incredible at improvisation, playing off what is being said and done in the moment. It promises to be a powerful experience as he works with Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister at Middle Collegiate Church, a 900-member multiracial, multicultural, inclusive congregation in the East Village of Manhattan, who will deliver our opening sermon. Together they will help us imagine being a church that is truly multiethnic, multicultural, filled with the wild flurry of Spirit.
Before it gets too late on Thursday night, be sure to find the Episcopal Tent, because they will host Compline at 9 pm, Thursday (as well as on Friday and Saturday) and a number of worship gatherings throughout the weekend.
Set your alarm for Friday morning – and get back to the main stage by 8:30 am. Melissa Greene, associate pastor, and Josh Hailey, creative director, both from GRACEPOINTE, an interdenominational, progressive Christian community in Nashville, will lead music and liturgy before Stan Mitchell, GRACEPOINTE’s senior pastor, speaks. GracePointe became one of the first evangelical megachurches in the country to openly stand for full equality and inclusion of the LGBTQ community, after Mitchell found himself asking “Could you be a church in Selma and not march?” He, along with his congregation, decided they couldn’t. This hour promises to be a welcome taste of what happens every week at GRACEPOINTE, and their “widened approach to the Gospel.”
You will definitely want to head to the Episcopal Tent at noon on Friday for Eucharist with spiritual theologian Matthew Fox. Co-founder of The (r)evolutionary Creation Spirituality movement, and author of a number of books, Fox was a Dominican for 40 years, and he’s especially known for bringing Christian mystics like Meister Eckhart and Hildegard of Bingen into the consciousness of contemporary Christians. A voice for social, environmental, and gender justice, it has been said that Fox “…may be the most creative, the most comprehensive, surely the most challenging theologian in America.”
At 5:30 on Friday and Saturday, stop by the The Practice Space for a Taize Vespers Service, led by Leslie Withers and Mark Reeve. Taize is a kind of contemplative worship that includes periods of silence, punctuated by meditative singing. The songs come out of the Taize community in France, an ecumenical monastic order dedicated to kindness, simplicity and reconciliation. You could also head to The Episcopal Tent on Saturday at 6 for a Potluck Dinner Eucharist with Healing Prayer.
Another don’t-miss event — Friday at 11 pm, join us at the Cafe for OPENINGS: Lament, Celebration, and Holy Communion with The Many. Born out of the collaboration of a diverse group of artists, writers, social justice activists, and pastors, with music by the emerging indie music collective, The Many, OPENINGS promises to be just what we need right now – time to lament, pray and sing, share bread and wine, and open a way to hope again. You’ll even have a chance to be in an Instant Choir for this event. Instant Choir Rehearsal is at 1 pm on Friday at the Circle Tent (listed as Openings, the Backstory, on the schedule). It’s your chance to learn the new music that will be sung on Friday night so you can join in. The original music, much of it written for worship at the Jesus-and-justice-loving, multiracial, inclusive LaSalle Street Church in Chicago, has been described as “indie folk meets gospel choir meets social justice worship band.”
Wake up on Saturday morning and make a bee-line for the main stage again by 8:30 for Morning Liturgy: Praying with the Music of the World. Featuring music from Taize and Iona as well as from faith communities of Africa and South America. Led by Gary Rand, worship/arts pastor at LaSalle Street Church and McCormick Seminary in Chicago, he’s known for weaving together music, prayer, and liturgy from different traditions to open space for God to work and people to respond in the rich diversity of creation, experience and culture. He’ll be joined at 9 AM by Emilie Townes, who
will be reflecting on Psalm 124: The Theology of Somehow. Emilie is the Dean and Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University Divinity School with a perspective that we need to hear right now. As she believes, “God speaks in a variety of ways, and when we try to confine God to speaking only one way to only a certain group of people, then we’re really creating God in ourselves.”
On Saturday at 4:00 pm, Matthew Fox and Howard Hanger will be leading “Earth Liturgy: The Blessed Mess” in The Practice Space.
Then find your way to The Labyrinth Tent at 4:30 on Saturday to join Galileo Church and evangelist Katie Hays in an interactive liturgy crafted around the original music of singer-songwriter Paul Demer’s album Maybe All Is Not Lost. Layers of song, scripture, body prayer, query, and the sharing of bread and cup will invite us to discover how to stand for hope during a hard season, without retreating to the clenched fist of certainty.
On Sunday morning, you’ll want to head to the main stage again at 8:30 am, for Morning Liturgy: Prayer, Songs and Strong Coffee. It’s BYO Coffee by the way. And you can take part in a Catholic Mass at 9 am on Sunday in the Labyrinth.
For the closing liturgy of the weekend, which begins at 11 am on the main stage, we will celebrate God’s stories in our stories and our stories in God’s stories, led by two engaging liturgist/artist/activists, Matthew David Morris and Cláudio Carvalhaes. Matt has led liturgy at Wild Goose before, with words and music that take us into greater truth and a stronger sense of connection with ourselves, our world and our Creator. This will be Claudio’s’ first time with us, but he is known around the world as someone on the cutting edge of cross-cultural worship, a voice of liberation among communities of color, and a prophetic presence among those who are pushing the church into the 21st century. We can’t imagine a more fitting ending to the weekend, one of both challenge and hope, culminating in the celebration of the Eucharist together.
There are so many reasons to come to Wild Goose. So many things to hear and see and do – music, speakers, opportunities to hang out and have amazing conversations. But we believe participating in liturgies, experiencing Eucharist, and singing out our fear and faith and sorrows and joy in communal rituals, may be some of the most significant times you will have here. In the mess and mudhole that is too often the reality of our world today, worship at the Goose can be, as writer Lenora Rand said recently in a piece in Red Letter Christian’s blog, “…an act of defiance in the face of the prevailing powers of the gods of scarcity, injustice, hate and violence.”
We hope you’ll join us for as many of these wild and holy, celebratory acts of defiance as you can.