Every Sunday evening I gather with a small group in Church and talk about stuff. It’s always one of the best bits of the week. I think it demonstrates the power of community and value of community.
In my last post I referred to my lack of engagement with the typical Church of England Sunday morning fare. Though my theme was the power of taking the Church’s words out into ‘the world’ I acknowledged that the Church could do more to bring the words to life in its own context.
So I thought I’d add a word about my own favourite service, the six o’clock eucharist at St James in Weybridge. The format is a simple spoken conventional communion service attended by anything between 5 and 20 people. It has a generally informal feel, but its distinguishing feature is the simple innovation of holding a discussion where there would normally be a sermon. Topics vary widely and have recently included the 9/11 anniversary, the value or otherwise of hymns, the historical background of the Gospels, the Pope’s visit, views on the Archbishop of Canterbury, the riots and so forth. There is no set theme and discussion is stimulated by the readings or current events or both. The tone is often forthright or argumentative but always good natured. If it sounds a bit earnest, let me reassure you that there is plenty of laughter and plenty of time for lighter themes.
This development, now a few years old has given this this (until then) Cinderella service an identity. But for me it has become a kind of home. We are always coming back to the great imponderables – suffering, the nature of God, the Meaning of Life – and of course, we shed some light, but often reach a point of beyond which we cannot go. But it has taught me how much it matters to be part of a community that is dealing honestly with what is difficult. It is in what we see together that such truth as is available emerges – often out of disagreement. Above all I have learned the value of being part of a community that is asking the questions, walking together with them, and sharing the load. I think we need more of this.
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