0

Month: May 2016

Going to Church for the First Time


We wandered to the imposing door as we watched the couple in front of us get met at the door. I turn to Ruth and whisper “he’s turning them away”. After a brief interaction they are granted entry. We tentatively approach the elderly guardian at the portal. 

In uncertain French Ruth boldly states “We are here for the mass”. 
“Are you sure?  Lots of people say that they are here for the mass but get up after ten minutes and wander around” replies the keeper of the door.

We nervously exchange glances and search for words in an unfamiliar lexicon. “Yes, we’re definitely here for the mass”. 

“Well if you have problems just go to the back”. 

“Ok”. 

We enter the darkened medieval nave and find a hard and narrow pew on which to place our posteriors. The gate keeper says ‘the back’ so how far are we allowed to approach the holy of holies?  Half way seems appropriate. There is no indication of what may happen next.  No card. No screen. Ruth texts me a link to some wording in a strange and foreign tongue. A bell chimes. An organ booms. I look at the strange words. I wonder how I got here. Perhaps the sentry was right. There’s nothing for me here.

This morning we went to church at The Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus in Carcassonne. As a priest it was a fascinating look into how daunting it is to go to church for the first time. We have only been learning French for a couple of years so don’t have the language to understand what is going on. At the door we were met with questions we didn’t quite understand at an imposing doorway about whether we were worthy of entrance.  There was nothing to indicate what would happen during the service. Fortunately we know the shape of the liturgy and how to find rudimentary wording online.

It was a lovely service and I think I understood about a third of the sermon and my theological French is improving vastly.  But I’m a priest and I found it daunting to gain access to the building, much less the worship.  Medieval Carcassonne is a phenomenally touristy place but there must be ways to engage occasional visitors with the worship of the church. 

Much to ponder about how we invite people into the presence of God.

Hospital in the Nave


We’ve just been around the L’Hotel-Dieu in Beaune for a look around. I’ve been a couple of times in the past. I was struck by the large church in which the nave was used as a hospital for hundreds of years. All being treated within eyesight of the alter.

It’s interesting to see that this religious community were still treating people until 50 years ago. A reminder of what the church has done and what it can do when it sets its mind to it.

This is a photo of the posher smaller bit for people deemed worthy. It was much easier to photograph.

C’est la vie!

Wage Inequality

It suits the current political climate to perpetuate a narrative that poor people are poor because they don’t work hard.  The growing gulf between the haves and the have nots in our world is bad for society.  Monkeys just do it faster.

Sanctum – An Emerging Gathering

This is the second year for Sanctum.  “What is sanctum?” I hear you ask.  Sanctum is an “Emerging Sacramental gathering of practitioners and dreamers to worship, recharge, share ideas, pray and support”.  A place for people on the edges to meet.

9th August 2016 2pm
to
11th August 2016 2pm

at The Community of the Resurrection Mirfield

Sanctum

As alt:worship practitioners there is little around in the way of support so Sue Wallace (transcendence), Edward Green and I put our heads together and decided to come together each year at Mirfield to share good practice, to pray and worship together and dream dreams together.  Last year was very organic with people with lots of experience of being part of Emerging Church gatherings, people who have always wondered what it was about and were thinking of exploring new ways of worshipping in their context and everything in between.

Mirfield is a newly ordered worship space that is perfect for the high tech and the low tech.  As a place that is used regularly for sacramental worship, there is space to use all of the senses as people explore their creativity using the traditions of the church.

Check out the site and BOOK!