We have just spent a few hours in the Guggenheim museum. One of the current exhibitions is the work of Niki de Saint Phalle. She apparently grew up in a convent school. I am assuming that influenced a couple of her pieces.
A few of us who are involved in Sacramental Alt Worship/Emerging Church/Fresh Expressions in the UK have been talking and we think that there is a need for a space for us to cross pollinate and dream dreams. Wherever you come from and whatever you are hoping to see develop in the future, Sanctum could be the place for you to explore missional worship from a sacramental tradition. There will be several practitioners involved including Sue and Malcolm Wallace from Transcendence, Eddie and Sarah Green, Ruth Sutherland and me from Metanoia and the Rock Mass and others.
The accommodation and facilities we’re using are at the Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield. Wworship will be in the newly reordered lower church with it’s great tech spec. Full board is £104 which is not bad for a noisy retreat. Spaces are limited so please get in touch ASAP to book.
If you want to dream dreams with us, please get in touch!
We are in the middle of the lent course at Holy Nativity where we are looking at issues of wealth and poverty. We have been following Kindle a Flame by Church Action on Poverty and it is really good pulling together a rich variety of scripture and resources. There is a great group of people coming along with the desire to see God transform our Urban Priority Area.
The above clip is for tonight’s session. It is amazing to think that in 1946 such clarity could be expressed in the US mainstream. I wonder how people will react to it and Zacchaeus tonight?
I’ve been asked a couple of times about what we’ve done on Shrove Tuesday. We have a pancake party for people of all ages at which we do some serious shriving! We decided to make a big deal out of Lent because it makes Easter much more special.
Burying the Alleluia
In the past we attended a big nonconformist church and each week we sang “He is Risen”. This happened every week throughout the year. It would drive Ruth to distraction because there was no sense of rhythm or season. I’d regularly hear “but it is lent” or “it is Christmas” on the way home from church. The word “alleluia” can become punctuation rather than an exclamation and removing it from our vocabulary during lent makes it much more meaningful when we get to Easter Morning.
Someone once told me of an ancient tradition of “burying the alleluia” like a body out in the graveyard. “Isn’t that a quaint ancient thing they used to do?” A quirk of history. Well it got my imagination going. So I bought this box from The Range. A quick trip to Google images and whilst waiting for pancakes we did some colouring. And singing! We sang all of the alleluia songs we could think of. We got it all out of our system. We danced and sang and ate pancakes, and coloured, and laughed and joked and prayed and had more pancakes and then headed out into the grounds.
All of our “alleluias” were placed into the £2 box from the range. Then we dug a hole and buried them. “We’re not going to be saying alleluia until Easter”.
“Where do you get ash from for Ash Wednesday?”
And everyone else’s fridge. “Last year I gave everyone a palm cross on Palm Sunday. You probably put it on the fridge or the dashboard of the car. Please can you bring it to church next Sunday ready for Ash Wednesday?”
When I was asked where I got ash from I made this video to illustrate how easy it is to turn things into ash. A friend said “and next year you should do that with the congregation and pancakes”.
Lo and behold. We burn things in a wok.
One thing I’ve noticed about life is that most experiences don’t come with facts, they come with feelings. Things I’ve longed for come with the question “so how does it feel?” Like when you put on a new jumper and start fiddling with the cuffs to work out what it feels like. When Ruth decided she wanted a Harley we ended up having a conversation about what it feels like. Sometimes this is a physical thing and sometimes it is emotional. I drove a BMW once. It was technically a great car but it felt all kinds of wrong. I was sat in the driver’s seat of a board room executive’s car feeling a longing in my soul for a roady’s van.
I remember that day nearly six years ago when I put on a dog collar for the first time. I looked in the mirror at something that for many years I had prepared for and dreamed of. It came with an emotional response. It felt weird. In the mirror I saw a vicar who looked a little like me staring back from the glass. It was weird.
I remember the first day I went to church and the priest behind the altar was a woman. I remember that it had a feeling about it. It felt a bit strange. It was something I knew to be right but something that had previously been outside of my sphere of experience. Not through design, I’d just never previously had the experience as our vicar happened to be a bloke.
Then there was the point where my life changed and I started to hang out with vicars. A lot of vicars. They’re all over the place. Hundreds of them. It seems that I haven’t changed much since my school days. I tend to sit at the table with the intelligent girls who’ve all done their homework. For me, women in dog collars is probably a more common sight than men.
This week I watched on live TV the consecration of Rt Revd Libby Lane. Nearly a decade ago when I arrived at theological college and began training for ordination the issue of women in the episcopate became part of my life. Since then this has regularly been on the agenda. It is something I have wanted. It is something I’ve hoped for. And for a decade, I have wondered how it would feel. How would this new and strange experience compare to my previous new experiences? How would I feel when I looked at my TV screen with Libby in Episcopal purple?
It felt normal.
What a let-down. I was expecting something visceral. What I got was normality. A bishop. There’s a bishop called Libby and that’s normal. Good.
Congratulations Bishop Libby. I’m really pleased that there is now a woman in our little bit of the episcopate. I’m really happy that the first to break new ground in our little English bit is you. I’m over the moon that my female colleagues, our parishioners, the server who stands at the altar with me and the kids in our school all have a good role model. I’m really happy that one day, hopefully one my friends will be my boss.