Dismissal for Blesséd Holy Week

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The recording with the young people was excellent last night – they did it with humour, candour and mutual respect for each other.

Our Youth Evangelism Fund bid is still in formation, and has now formally become known as “A Grands-worth of Popcorn“. Their idea, which (naturally) started as a joke, was to spend all the money on popcorn – a particular favourite of theirs, but as they talked about it more, it became more of a reality – putting evangelistic messages on small bags of popcorn, effectively rebranding them, and using them to attract people to a series of services they ultimately want to put on. I am sure they won’t actually spend a grand on it, but it will be both their key-selling-point of their bid alongsde other promotional aids. Twister also seemed to be important to them in this respect. What makes their sharing of the Gospel different – it is about sharing (food and experiences), about fellowship and games, about hearing and telling and in the midst of fellowship finding an encounter with God. It sounds great when they tell it to me, but when I think about how they might tell those who pull the pursestrings, I get a bit worried. That the fund exists is encouraging enough, that it is in the hands of the actual young people themselves and not clergy like me [however great at youth evangelism I may be, and how much I need a new fastfold projection screen, but I hope they can make their rather fanciful dream a reality with funding.

Fresh Expressions Round Table

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Lambeth Palace is a very impressive building, big staterooms, lots of old wood and high stone arches. It doesn’t much look like the Church of England I know. We sit in a small room off the chapel: nice sandwiches, decent coffee and a lively and engaged conversation on Fresh Expressions [a phrase which you know I am personally suspicious of.

We began the day with a coffee in one of the Staterooms: very plush, lots of sofas. I could have done the meeting there, but we retired to a much smaller, pokier room in the Palace. Passing impressive-looking libraries and paintings of dead archbishops and a display case of gifts from the Chinese to ++R on his last visit.

Under discussion is a number of issues for Catholic Practitioners of Fresh Expressions, and we begin with a discussion which springs out of a paper by Angela Tilby, and now part of the Mission-Shaped Questions which I have just bought and will want to read on the train home. It was a good paper, and it stimulated a lot of good discussion. At the heart of it was a call to an authentic spirituality which had an identifiably anglican and therefore sacramental heart: Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.

One of the best comments was from Stephen Croft who identified that the Anglican Liturgy itself was not the mechanism through which Anglicans were formed, but it was the mode of transmitting that DNA of Anglicanism. It was again, rubric and shape rather than the actual words which mattered. The preface of the 1549 BCP spoke of uniting “divers practices in divers counties” and so diversity is what should be celebated. Carl Turner, who sits of the Liturgical Commission spoke of Common Worship as a mechanism for permitting creativity, whilst some around that table felt it had been used as a brick with which to beat fresh expressions with.

It will be interesting when we get together to work on a liturgy for a Catholic Fresh Expressions day on December 8th, at the moment with the Archbishop of Canterbury planned to be the principle celebrant: how far can we go? Will ++R consent to Blesséd or similar on his watch, or are all Bishops happier with not knowing what happens in dark corners of their Church. This is a great opportunity for selling Fresh Expressions to Anglocatholics, and selling the Catholic and the Contemplative to the wider Church though Fresh Expressions. We might not be able to persuade him to do Benediction, but a symbolic, deeply sacramental and imaginative eucharist should be achievable. I just don’t want to end up selling out, like what almost happened last time we did worship under the auspices of the establishment. It worked in the end, but not without a lot of soul searching and arguments between friends, which should never have happened.

Work on books and pamphlets continues and I realise that I have a job of work to do to place the philosophy of Blesséd in a wider public domain. If you are reading this, then I expect you already know some of the story, but there are many others out there whom I have not had the chance to engage with, and for whom the fledging ecclesial community might be just what is needed. Great to hear of Sue’s work in York, and the art exhibition imaginatively put on by Ian and Moot: an exciting future for them which needs lots of prayer.

blessed01.jpg

So, overall, a good day: lots to think about, a shedload more work to do, reassurance when I am low and the promise of good things for the future. We just need people to come and engage with the next Blesséd event – I can tell I am becoming anxious about this – it isn’t about numbers of people coming, but scale validates the process. If only half-a-dozen people come and are moved by it then that is all that matters, but I plan on buying 50 doughnuts, and it would be a tragedy to waste them…

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

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The forthcoming Blessed will climax with the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. It is for me, after the Eucharist itself, the most sublime devotion possible: an intimacy unmatched and an opportunity to dwell in the presence of God, manifest before us – a closeness in prayer which sometimes simply jumping up and down and repeating “you’re so great, you’re so great” simply doesn’t compare to. I have a great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, even being a member of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament (I support wholeheartedly their aims and objects, even if the rest of them appear at this time to be unspeakable Spikes).

The challenge is how to explore that in an alt.worship context, with many who might be quite unfamiliar with the devotion: to teach and yet at the same time, find space for prayer, devotion and worship. I hope this video might be a way forward for us, at this event at least.

Music Credits, of course, are due to Sue Wallace at Visions who sent me the funky music to which I have ineptly added the piano bit. Ben Mizen is the man who is the Acid Pro Master, who has made my rather jarring efforts into something approaching music. My thanks to both of them.

Video-wise, I have a slight geeky-pleasure in learning how to use a mask to pick out part of an image and (in this case) to pull out colour from a black and white image, in the case of this video Jesus and a Candle Flame. I have never needed it before, and this is how I learn to do stuff: need to know. The possibilities for this are numerous, and once I start with this technique, there are many times when we will be grateful for this. People often say “how do you learn this stuff” but it doesn’t seem much, when I just pick stuff up as and when I need it: this week masking, last week chromakey – it’s only a chapter ahead and anyone can do what I do, and better.
It ends with a sequence where the congregation are given a candle with “watch and pray” labelled on it for them to take away with them and to join in the Gethsemene wait – the dawn is not far off, and the resurrection will be a reality soon. Promise.