Friday, 13 January 2017

People not paper

That's what matters most and today has been full of people and Communion. It's been another fag paper day and things were again running tight, but they all fitted together and I found myself ended and back home by around six pm. Made the conscious decision to draw stumps by sea and call it a day, walking away from the study and watching the TV for a change, snuggled up and chilling to a comedy play and then an action film before making it to bed.

What has been most amazing today is the fact that I have managed to engage with so many people on a one-to-one basis in the one day. I love it when a day becomes filled with people and to listen to their stories about families, church and life is such a privilege. To extend the spiritual walls and to celebrate the love of a God who cares and came to save us from ourselves in our simple Passover meal never loses it's appeal of effect.

There are a number of people I'll at the moment and as the snow falls silently outside, covering the scars and the ugliness of our creation it is hard to to think of how God covers our sins and redeems us, turning an ugliness into beauty, using an awful event to create something beautiful in and for us.

The joy of seeing, and having confirmed, the real changes experienced in lives through the move of God's Holy Spirit. So often we ask, or are asked, for things empirical and yet when it is seen, how often to we stop to applaud, give thanks and be just a little moved by it? Lord, I love the way You influence lives and bring the most amazing changes through the simplest act of prayer and the affirmation of belonging that the presence of another confers.

The key to being Christian is totally wrapped up in incarnacy. God becomes fully man to reconcile us to Himself and it is in this that we are redeemed. In Jesus, the Christ, we see obedience; the putting first the many rather than self and it is here that the key is found. It is the breaking of bread and  making the Christ known which turns that key and it is in being engaged and actively involved with the person before us, that image of the invisible God made visible, which sees the door open and the light rush in to even the darkest of places.

It's not 'if you build it they will come' but rather 'if we are with them they will have arrived'!

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us - and people respond to that coming among them. Too often we make Church about coming to see the show, begging them to see, hear, feel, and enjoy having their ears tickled with what they want. We feed the very same consumer society that we claim to separate ourselves from. Church, if we are honest, is for many of us (clergy and lay), about brining a 'popular' church. Senior staff have never asked me about how blessed, prayerful or engaged with the community we are in our iteration of Christ's Bride. They ask about numbers and crave the 'how many and how much' that permits them to measure their success to those around them (and especially perhaps those above - can I say that? Should I say that?).

Church is about being successful not being sacred. Our liturgy is failing and becoming limp as we seek to make it accessible and shorten it and fall into the trap that it and worship are two different things; and having condemned our liturgy to the label words, we reach for our Rend Collective songbook and play our tambourines for the masses in the hope they will dance!!! (I like Rend Collective by the way - not a knock at them)

Lord for those with whom I have been Church today, I thank You.

For those who have met with God and been touched by His presence and all that confers, and all that this affirms, today. I bless Your holy name.

Lord, help me to be the man You call me to be; the man for whom the Christ died, and never count the cost. To never wear a watch that I might be ruled by time rather than the need before me but to wear instead a smile and to affirm others (even in those stories heard perhaps again and again) with love and compassion.

For the many needs before me today I look to You, the God who answers by fire, and who speaks into our lives in the gentlest of whispers. Be God in the lives of those who sit in solitude, who recline in pain and confusion, who walk in the shadow of death.

Lord, I love you.

Running total (this is something I've been asked to do for an average week by someone looking at their own call - it is neither a boast or a complaint but merely just what it is)

Comm: 75
Hrs 44
telephone: 114
Texts: 94
Email: 143

1 comment:

UKViewer said...

What is interesting is the commentary about the language of our liturgy in the letters column of the Church Times. Some talk about the lack of understanding of words being used, particularly in Eucharistic prayers. Others say, that it's fine, we just need to educate people on the theology of the Eucharist and help them to understand the words, why they are used in that way and empower them to accept them.

Mention of the BCP seems to draw people out of their shells. Some (as I do) love the symbolism and language used in the BCP, which they regard as our heritage, others abhor it totally and will never contemplate it's use.

For me, who was raised a Catholic with the liturgy in Latin, the latin form is lovely as well, as I was well used to that, both as an Altar server as a boy, where we learned the liturgy by heart, and we were the ones who responded to the Priest. In the main, the congregation were 'done to', although they joined in congregational prayers.

Three contrasts. When I became an Anglican, I thought how similar CW was to the than Catholic Mass, which when it became said in the vernacular (post Vatican 2), and the agreement between Catholic and Anglicans to standardise services made it possible to worship in both contexts, with very similar services.

In recent years, the Catholic liturgy has been alterned, not substantially, in terms of the use of words and responses from the congregation, which haven't gone down well with those who purchased family missals for the new liturgy, only to find them obsolete due to the new order of the mass.

But we do need a muscular liturgy, which highlights the sacredness and meaning of the Eucharist, in language which preserves that, but can be simple and help people to join in with the mystery of it all, based on their knowledge and understanding of the underlying theology. I see that as a starting point for us as we want to share those mysteries wider than a narrow section of our congregations.

How we do that is the question. The Pilgrim Course on the Eucharist is a good place to start. We are going to do that this year in the parish, hoping to increase a knowing worship for our people.