Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Liquid Mass

Was the title of a most excellent training day arranged by Praxis last week, led by the ever wonderful Tim Sledge.
A couple of hundred of us met in Birmingham Cathedral, and heard about Critical Mass, the worship event that Tim et al has produced for the youth of Peterborough diocese. It's basically an alt worship Eucharist road-show, Tim was very quick to tell us that it is not a Fresh Expression of Church..He was equally clear on his basic premise, that if we cannot reach people with the Eucharist, the time has come to hang up our cassocks, recycle our tea-lights and go home.
Amen, say I.
The Eucharist works, when we allow it to. Often, of course, it is all the things that Peterborough youth feared - "clannish, longwinded, hierarchical,static and nothing to do with the emerging church" - but if we don't get in the way, it actually contains all the right elements to engage a post modern culture...Story, journey, participation, visual imagery, symbol...It is multi sensory, and, of course, it focusses on food.
Tim talked us through some practical ideas for presenting the parts of the Eucharist, and later on we all participated in a splendid act of worship, with lots of lovely right-brain intuitive and experiential components, - utter bliss!

But the thing that I will carry with me for the forseeable future was a throw away line, early in the day...
"Worship", said Tim, "is what gets me up in the morning!"
Oh....if only.

Being honest, how many of you feel that what your church offers would qualify on these terms?
I'd love to be engaged in that sort of reality, but there's a long long way to go, not just in the way we present liturgy in most of our churches but also in the little world of the curate's soul.


cal said...

Oh how many of my buttons does this post press?!

Your day sounds wonderful. I've been desparately crying out for similar things at my church for such a long time now. And the frustrating thing is that the clergy have too!

And now it looks like some things might be happening BUT the whole thing has been so clergy led that I'm not convinced it will work. Or work well.

Stakeholder consultation people. Grassroots involvement. Participatory approaches.

These are scarcely new ideas - but it seems as if the church hasn't woken up to them. And then wonders why no-one attends.

There's still a feeling of 'Father knows best' even when it's 'Mother'! Yes, you may have been trained in liturgy and we may make an appalling mess of it - but let us and we'll feel an ownership.

Oh and of course we 'have' to use the authorised versions of the Eucharist at least on a regular basis which adds a certain constraint!

Sorry for rant. Told you you pressed a button!

St said...

Anyone else out there just a tiny bit concerned at the idea - if we can't reach them with the eucharist how can we reach them? The Eucharist (IMHO) is for those who want to do something in memory of him who used to be dead. It is not about reaching people it is about focusing the reached.

I would personally be delighted if we only celebrated the Eucharist once a year, on Easter Day. Boy would that be special.

If we want to do something special to catch people's attention meanwhile lets have some foot washing, prodigal parties, baptisms in the lake, healings and... D'you get mi?

Kathryn said...

St...you'll not be surpised that I've got quite a long answer to your commment brewing, which will need a post of its own. I guess your "Once a year at Easter" line pushed as many of my buttons as my original did for you. I suspect you're thinking of my using the Eucharist as a rather inadequate "gimmick" to provide a focus for the service...Actually, what I'm suggesting is that if, as I believe, it is one of the most powerful means of direct encounter with Jesus, then while there are other ways of getting people into church, they may not measure up to it. It's a SACRAMENT, in my book, - so it works come what may. More later - I've run out of time!
If you believe, as I do, that in the Eucharist Christ is present, then

Jonathan Hunt said...

s'not a sacrament, its an ORDINANCE.

:-P :-P

Have at you, candle-bashers!


stuart said...

"Worship", said Tim, "is what gets me up in the morning!"

Oh how I wish, sadly Kathryn I fear you are right, yet its difficult the worship I would get up for, others may stay in bed for.

I have just been reading 'Changing World, Changing Church'. In here he presents a much more fragmented church, meeting the needs of 'different interest groups' not sure that is the answer either. One thing is sure if those who have been reached are to respond we need to give them something worth getting up for!

Caroline said...

Hmm, I guess that I'm somewhere in between st an you Kathryn.

But I guess that I do struggle with the idea that our job is to get people to come to church for Eucharist, guest service, seeker service, fresh expression or ...

Shouldn't we be out there?

I have no answer to the next questions, perhaps you could help me Kathryn, but

what might we be doing if we were living "this is my body broken for you" out in the world

and what would we be doing if we were living "this is my blood shed for you" out in the world

and if in addition to being a living sacrifice; we were a living sacrament to our Lord, what would we be doing and who would we be doing it with and do you think that more people would see Jesus if we lifted him up that way?

I wonder if those questions are helpful or muddled? I shall have to go away and think.

Caroline Too