It's been a while since I've posted. More down to time and being bothered really. I made a resolution to try to post at least once a month and it seems it didn't take long for me to fail. There's a lot to catch up on!
Casting my mind back, in the dim and distant past I had a long holiday! I've only been back two weeks but it seems like a lifetime away. A fantastic time was had by all in our secluded rented house in the South of France. We chilled by the pool, saw some local sights, bought quite a bit of local wine, canoed on the Ceze river, swam in the river, ate in some nice local restaurants....that gives a bit of a flavour. I also decided to go to Mass in the local town one Sunday. That was a good experience as it was different to what I was used to. It seemed very rushed. With a sermon it didn't last longer than 45 minutes! There weren't any hymns and a few bits were sung, and with every Mass I've been to abroad, people seemed to wander in and out as they pleased. Some even just turned up to receive communion and then left! The good thing for me was that I found the time to take myself off to church.
We popped into Taize on the way home (had a disastrous night under canvas - I was freezing and as a result didn't get much sleep and therefore was quite ratty the next day). We went to Saturday evening prayer and on Sunday had a brief meeting with Brothers Parfait and Thomas. It was great to see them, albeit briefly. The format of the Saturday evening prayer had changed a little; I guess this is part of the ongoing review/change process that happens quite a bit in Taize and I sense a move in worship to a more monastic style.....
On our return I pretty much went straight back to my day job and my STETS work started at the same time. This current module 'Contexts for the Church in Mission' is very interesting as it is dealing with such issues as the church in the community/world - globalisation etc. Something that interests me enormously with my sales and marketing hat on; how does the church reconcile itself and move with the times in an ever changing world in terms of communication and technology? It has to, but at the same time maintaining its identity and not forgetting those who don't have and won't have such technology; we must constantly remind ourselves that it is only in the developed countries where such technology such as broadband, mobile phones etc are an affordable day to day item; whereas in some countries these are serious luxury items.
So, how does the church respond? I believe that today's society is looking for something outside of the materialistic, debt ridden, recession sliding country/world that we live in. The problem for the church is that others (and some dangerous others) seem to be getting there first. As a church we need to respond. I am involved in a church in the City of London that is entering a very exciting phase of its history. It dates back to pre-Great Fire but is somewhat tired. It needs a face-lift, re-vamp and re-launch. We are very lucky in we have a priest whose job is to do just that and we have some significant plans. We were talking today of creating a church and community around the church with a buzz - making the place feel alive, loved and lived in once again. Sure, it will take a lot of money to do so, but I also believe in the power of prayer and God will provide so that this church can shine as a beacon out into the city as a place where people can come.
We as a church much also change in respect of drawing people in. We must go out into the community to show non-church goers that we aren't 'strange' of 'odd' and just 'normal' people (well as normal as we can get). We must be part of the community, mingle, liaise, help, and be beacons. That way people will come to church when they know that their friends go there as well. Once we have these people in church we must welcome and make them feel at home, at ease, part of the family and furniture. If we have to explain what happens then let's do that (it might make us think about what we are doing as well). Let's see a revival in our churches. I'm convinced it's possible and pray each day for it.
And to finish off for now. My eldest son has just gone off to 'big' boarding school. He looks so small within such a large place. However, when dropping him off it didn't take long for him to be talking to others in the same boat, sharing with his fellow room-mates, finding out what they had in common etc. It will take him some time to settle in, but I'm sure once he does he will look like part of the furniture. His school has the most wonderful chapel and on first impression a great Chaplain. I look forward to further conversations with him.
Finally, today I was asked to be a Godfather to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's son, Peter. I am honoured and privileged to be asked. I truly hope that I will live up to expectations and be a good Godfather. I now have two Godsons and a Goddaughter. They are all wonderful and I look forward to them developing into super children and well-rounded, happy adults.
Until next time.