Grace - fresh vital worship since 1993

October 2012: Terra Periculosa - Exploring Dangerous Places

october 2012 grace flyer

Photos from the service can be found here. Perhaps unsurprisingly no one else has any photos in flickr tagged terrapericulosa!

The slideshow is here.

Church layout

Pews were moved back to create a clear central space and a closed box, lined with maps was set up on a central table. Maps were laid out on the floor and the space was broken up and closed off using hazard tape enhanced with lighting.

Introduction and confession

"When the Holy Spirit comes upon you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world. ....So they left the mountain called Olives and returned to Jerusalem"

Space – invite people to think about when they have doubted and limited what they have thought of God – look at the box in the centre and think of the times when we have packed God away to tidy him up!

closed box

Confession – on screen

We are sorry that we have said thank you and put you in a box and stored you on the shelf ready for the big event
Forgive us for keeping you gift wrapped for special occasions

We are sorry that we have turned our backs on the places and people that you are changing
Forgive us for believing we can keep the lid on your box and failing to trust that you can transform our world

We are sorry that we have closed our eyes and ears to your presence in our world
Forgive us for not noticing that the box is empty and that you are alive and living in our world

We are sorry that there are parts of the map we don"t want to visit – the terra periculosa – dangerous land.
Forgive us for failing to walk new paths or cross over to the other side of the street.

[Lid of the box opened but not removed]

lid off box

Thank you that you forgive our limitations and the limits we put on others,
May we lift the lid on your love, open our eyes and ears to your voice and walk new paths,

Played audio sample of Acts 2 – arrival of the Holy Spirit

How do we listen to the Spirit? 15-20 minutes)

Five different activities inspired by 5 passages in Acts. People were assigned an activity by choosing a numbered stone taken out of the box. [Janeth to sort out stones and let Sue/Richard know if they need picking up]

Terra Periculosa (10 minutes)

(Images of ancient maps on the screen, piles of maps torn from an old road atlas, marker pens and clothes pegs)


I love maps – the starting point of holidays, trips way and days out walking is – have we go the map. Mostly I love ordnance survey maps – the story they tell of a changing landscape, the way you can read the hills and valleys and settlements. But the travel guide writer Mike Parker asks –

"Can you be too much of a map addict? I"d say so. Getting lost occasionally is essential for the soul, but we mappies are not very good at it. To us being lost is synonymous with failure, not adventure. Being unable to give a precise grid reference for our location at any point in time makes us prone to panic, with all the unpleasant side effects – not least to those around us – that that suggests. It"s only in recent years that I"ve begun to go anywhere without a map. Occasionally I forget to take one and then experience that hot spasm of horror when I remember, the kind that normal people only feel on realising that they"ve lost their wallet. Sometimes I force myself not to take a map with me on a walk or a journey, an experience that can be anything from liberating to terrifying."

But maps always have gaps and undescribed spaces – if you look at a globe of the world it doesn"t give you the detail of your immediate surroundings and if you are clutching your OS walking map it only takes you to its own edges.

For the disciples travelling in the Roman Empire things were different – there were classical maps but they were on a grand scale and not interested in directing you. If you went on a journey like Paul or Peter or Philip you might have an itinerarium – a essentially a list of the places you needed to go through to reach your destination with the distances between them – it says little or nothing of the terrain and gives nothing away about the places outside your direct route – the villages and towns just off your map. In classical and Roman maps these were often labelled "terra periculosa" dangerous land – land that was unmapped and unknown to the creator – places where you needed to be wary and seek out a local guide.

Many of us have "terra periculosa" places, people or situations which make us feel wary, uneasy or even downright frightened.

Where or what are your "terra periculosa"? The dangerous land you want to avoid?

Take some time to think and pray about this.

Take a piece of a map and write or draw your "terra periculosa", your dangerous land and peg it to the hazard tape.

Communion Liturgy

(Break down the sides of the box to reveal the maps inside and the bread and wine)

opened box

Opening sentences

John baptized with water but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

I will pour out my Spirit on all people - your sons and daughters will prophesy.

The Jewish believers were amazed that the Holy Spirit had been poured out on Gentiles too.

God is Here
His Spirit is with us

Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit of Jesus
Who was there at Pentecost
Poured out on the disciples

Voice 1

Poured out in Jerusalem
in the upper room with power
with the Jews from every nation hearing in their own languages,
Peter preaching the resurrection of Jesus from the dead,
healing the lame man,
confronting the powers of empire and domination.

Voice 2

Poured out in Judea
birthing a new community in mission gathering in homes,
rippling outwards into the surrounding areas,
living a new life of praise, joy and generosity,
sharing possessions and following the way of the upside down Kingdom of God.

Voice 3

Poured out in Samaria
in a wave of persecution provoked by Stephen
on Philip the Greek Jew who took the risk of going to Samaria
who sensed God might be at work in the despised heretics
on the excluded Eunuch reading Isaiah the prophet

Voice 4

Poured out to the ends of the earth
On Peter as he dared break the rules to eat with Cornelius and saw you fill the Gentiles
With Paul dazzled by your resurrection appearance called to the outsiders
With Simeon, Lydia, the Philippian jailer, Priscilla and Aquila and the women and men leading the new communities of the Spirit multiplying out along the trade routes of the Empire
- the emerging global community of the Way!

So we join the song of heaven, saying
Holy holy holy
Lord God Almighty
Heaven and earth are full of your glory
Hosanna in the highest

At the heart of this new community of the Spirit was a gathering round a meal
sharing bread and wine,
sharing stories,
sharing possessions,
remembering the life death and resurrection of Jesus.
We break this bread to remember the body of Christ of which we are part.
We drink this cup to share in the new relationship with God made possible by Jesus" death on the cross.

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and wine
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.

Pour out your Comforter on us
to lead us out of comfort into terra periculosa
to people and places beyond our horizons
to cross borders and boundaries
to lead us to the least and the outsider.

This Spirit is poured out on all flesh
and testifies with our spirit that

Christ has died
Christ is risen
Christ will come again

So come to the table
with the disciples in Acts,
with disciples in Christian communities down the ages,
with disciples in homes, houses and churches
in cultures, contexts and countries round the world.

Break bread and eat together,
Enjoy fellowship,
Devote yourself to the apostles teaching,
Share all that you have with one another
and with those who are needy,
Praise God,
And do so with joy and generosity!

Share bread and wine
Play "Come Holy Spirit" during communion – words on the screen.

Silence for response or prayer about new places to engage with God and the world.

Blessing – Sue

Let the Holy Spirit come upon us to be your witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, in Ealing and Acton, in Greenford and Holland, in Croydon a Basingstoke .......even to the ends of the world. ....

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