comes in as many forms as the Festival itself….from Quaker silence, through the Franciscans Celebrating Common Prayer to the Underground Rock Eucharist and the many creative expressions of worship in the New Forms venue.
This year I felt drawn to far more worship than in the past (when the need to be educated and stimulated generally took precedence) – and it was all wonderful (too wonderful, it seems, to be confined to one post - I hadn't intended a series, but there's so much to savour I may just have to produce one! Apologies to those who either experienced Greenbelt directly, or who are heartily tired of my reliving it already...I'll be a while yet)
Saturday night saw me exploring Moot’s Divine Sense of Place…with its focus on the fear that lurks just beneath the surface of the urban landscape, the hositility to the stranger that the media love to cultivate.
The worship included some revised Beatitudes that I found very moving
“Blessed are the single mothers….the homeless…the asylum seekers…the yobs…the excluded”
and the reminder, from the parable of the sheep and the goats, that we meet Christ in the stranger.
“Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me" (Matt 25:31ff)
We looked again at our fears and tried to see the face of Christ in the stranger once more, so that we could say from the heart
“Stranger, no longer a stranger, I wish you well”
Towards the end of worship we were given the opportunity to go to one of a series of bowls and in silence have our hands washed, and wash the hands of another person….a stranger….
I was sitting on a bean bag very close to one of the basins and was enthralled by watching this sacrament of recognition and service again and again.
Finally there was just one person approaching, and I knew it was my turn…I was not prepared for the impact…When did someone last wash your hands? Not since early childhood,I’d guess…This was a far cry from the symbolic pouring of cool water that I receive before I begin the Eucharistic prayer -a thorough soaping…immensely powerful, - the silent contact, the loving care and then the moment when our focus changed from the hands to which we had each paid such total attention and we spoke to one another, Christ in the stranger, heaven in ordinary.
“When did we see you?”