I’ve just had two days in Cambridge – lots of pretty buildings and the best vegetarian cafe I have ever been to (with lots of delicious gluten-free dishes).
I was here to go to the Diocese of Ely training day on Fresh Expressions and Sacraments. Maggi Dawn was the resource person and gently and creatively engaged us in thinking about the Eucharist – meaning and purpose and then the practicalities of shaping liturgy that has theological continuity with the tradition, recognisable symbols and local cultural embeddedness.
She talked about the ways which sacraments make something real and physical that is otherwise only conceptual and illustrated this by talking about what it means to love someone. Our theoretical love needs to be embodied and practiced!
One of the things she said was that the point of doing something new is to stay who we are. When a community does the same thing over and over it becomes invested with meaning it didn’t ever have – the repetition can fossilise the meaning. Fresh expressions, then, are about keeping that which we do alive so it doesn’t lose meaning.
I feel like I’m doing a bad job of explaining how that sounded and how it landed in me as I think about emerging church and leadership and sacraments and community life. I guess I’ll have to think about it some more!
We concluded with a Eucharist that small groups had prepared the elements of in the 45 minutes prior to the service beginning. It wasn’t polished but, by grace and the inspiration of the Spirit (and the good sense of agreeing to use the lectionary readings for Sunday) it had a wonderful sense of the whole becoming more than its parts. I especially liked the words that were offered with the elements: “take this and be part of the story”.
One of the most unexpected joys of the day was finding myself sitting in a church hall in the village of Milton with my university chaplain from my first year at Massey some 18 years ago! It was lovely to see the Rev. David Kettle again.
Thanks to the Rev. David Male, Diocese of Ely Fresh Expressions Advisor, for making it so easy for me to be part of the day.
(Sorry about the lack of pictures with this post – will try and edit later)