Saturday, March 5, 2011

Realised Ecclesiology

Good evening God,
I've just spent the last 5 hours time travelling - into the future
I have been in April - by which I mean I have been busy preparing the Easter worship for the two Churches I am privileged to serve in the Kingston Upon Thames Circuit of the British Methodist Church.
I mention this because It set me to thinking about the rather strange realised ecclesiology - the 'now and not yet' of the Christian Calendar for the minister.
Tomorrow I will be putting everything I have into persuading the congregation to be a part of Lent - to take the trouble to engage with a programme of study or discipleship so that they come prepared to the cross and the wonder of resurrection.  Over the next seven weeks, starting with Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, members will have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of Scripture through participating in the Big Read or deepen their discipleship through the Churches together in Britain and Ireland lent course 'The Unreconciled' or simply increase their awareness of Christian fellowship through Feast & Fast - a programme of shared meals with Lent conversations.

All of this was prepared months ago, before Christmas even!
And it's not over yet, for in order to ensure that membership classes are in place and the services are advertised and communicated - I am already having to prepare for Pentecost!!!

So whatever happened to living in the moment?
What space for spontaneity?

Is this what you meant by 'In the fullness of time?'
I do worry God, What room have I left for your Spirit to intervene and surprise us, transform us?

Like most ministers, I know the value and the importance of well prepared worship, but I can't help thinking sometimes that its all a little - well - a little contrived.
I do my uttermost to try and ensure that the worship creates space for each person to meet with you God, that means trying to be creative, informative, educated even, about the use of that precious one hour that we have together on a Sunday. I find myself hunting for the 'right words', for opportunities to create the 'right mood', for audio visual components which might underline the 'right meaning' or the 'right approach' - and all the time, I wonder - what would you have done? What do you want to say?

I think Jesus was lucky - he did Easter ONCE for ALL - we ministers have to somehow recreate or enable others to experience it every year. And woe betide the minister who does the same this year as they did last year - and woe betide the minister who doesn't remember - 'But we ALWAYS DO IT THIS WAY'.. and woe betide all ministers who come to Easter unprepared!
I well recall my first Easter as an ordained minister - I was so tired after a full programme of Holy Week services, Easter home Communion visits and three Easter Day services that by the time I came to the final discipleship celebration in the evening, I came out and wished everyone a happy Christmas!

And somehow it was right to do so.

There is something delightfully paradoxical about this 'now and not yet' dimension to worship preparation.. followed weeks later by worship celebration. Nothing else reminds me that you transcend all time, and all space, than the fact that the worship I prepare with you, weeks, sometimes months in advance, meets the needs of your people when it is prepared.
So thank you God, for time traveling grace
Thank you for your help in my preparations
But, any chance you could make sure I'm back in my own time to be able to catch the next episode of my favorite TV programme?
Before Easter?

1 comment:

  1. The ministerial dilemma beautifully described. Thanks Angie