Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Converting and Confirming - or simply Confusing?

Good morning God,
Thank you for the sunshine yesterday, for not raining on our parade (or rather our plinth service). Thank you too for the thoughts and observations. It's often only when something is done differently that we are able to look again at what we thought was familiar and reflect more meaningfully on why we do what we do.

I loved the idea of an act of worship led from the 4th Plinth, of a public proclamation of your word and Ken did exceptionally well (although it was very wicked of you God to give me the image of a probationer minister preaching with the safety net in place!). It was a real honour to be invited to take part and to read your Word to those gathered in that place.
I thoroughly enjoyed the reunion with students from Wesley College... and the fellowship with the other Christians who came to share.
But (and you knew it was coming) I have been wondering about what those who were not Christian would have made of what we were doing.
What image of YOU in us did they see and take away with them? Did those who were there to support Ken and share in the worship 'connect' with them in a meaningful way? Were new friends made, did the joy of your presence fill us so that we were able to enthusiastically share your grace?
Christian's occupied a public space for an hour and held silence, listened to your Word, heard it expounded, prayed, sang and...
I'm stuck. I can't bring myself to say that we celebrated with the sacrament of Holy Communion because I'm not sure we did. At least, I know I didn't really meet with you in bread and wine yesterday, and I have been struggling to understand why. Revd Martin Turner did a good job of presiding, the liturgy was fine for public worship, there was bread, there was wine, there were stewards and a fine white cloth..
The best I have come up with so far is..
This was not a service designed to convert - although we know God that you can work in mysterious ways your wonders to perform, a service of Holy Communion which was neither charismatic, evangelical, mysterious or solemn and which was sandwiched between a dancing cow and a cross dresser, was never really likely to attract the attention of the tourist with a half an hour to spare leave alone the businessman passing by on his way to a meeting.
It was in some ways a confirming service, at least, it confirmed me in my fellowship with others and in the many mad things my faith in you gets me joyously involved in. But if I'm honest, it didn't really confirm my faith. It did not speak to me of OUR relationship, or in your promise of the future of humanity and the coming kingdom. I did not feel I was being fed by YOU - it was all too public, peculiar, plastic, problematic...? I can't find the adjective to describe what it was which stole the moment from me.
So sharing the Bread and Wine on this on this occasion was for me neither a converting nor a confirming sacrament, but rather a confusing one.. which is no bad thing I guess God.
It has certainly given me pause for thought as I prepare today's lunchtime service of Holy Communion - what am I hoping it will be? A converting, confirming or simply confusing rite? Above all, how can I prepare for it to be a means of grace in such a way that You are the one who will make the ultimate decision about what will happen - not me?
But musings on sacrament aside, I have to say full marks to Ken for his courage and optimism of grace, and to Charity and the others who worked to make it all possible. Whilst the hour may not have been Eucharistic for me, it was nonetheless a joyous gift of grace to see how creative and determined some of our new ministers are for the public proclamation of the Gospel.
Ken is another excellent example of why the Methodist Church's Venture Fx programme should not be limited confined or restricted according to someone's obsession with Youth. Being a pioneer, being imaginative, courageous and constructive in outreach, mission and evangelism is clearly not restricted by YOU God to those under a certain age. I'm sure that if you have your way, I can look forward to sharing in many more mad but magic moments of mission in the future.

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