For us, this was a good Greenbelt: the weather was much kinder than last year and the team was on form: co-ordinated, functional, friendly and a lot of fun: Lou, Liam, Emma, JJ, Jack, Vickie, Elizabeth and Bryony and I worked really well together to deliver five acts of worship. We didn’t take any pictures ourselves, and only a limited number have come our way so far but when I get more in, I will add them to this post.
So this post is a mixture of reflection on what we did and what I saw.
Blessed at Greenbelt 2013
[caption id=”attachment_4737″ align=”aligncenter” width=”480″ Church Times 30th August 2013. Very different to last year.[/caption
1. Nursery Rhyme Mass
We filled the Aspire venue: nearly 450 individuals – including a large number of young people joined us for a wonderfully informal celebration of the Mass set to nursery rhymes.
The sight of hundreds of young people sharing the sacraments, and knowing that what they were doing was special (more than many adults in my experience) gives me great hope. The singing was strong and lively and most of the rhymes fitted. I believe the nursery rhyme mass to be an evolving thing and seek newer and better rhymes. Forgot to add gluten free wafers. Ooops. Sorry.
In practical terms, 15 mins to get in and set up a venue was not much time but my team were wonderfully efficient and all played their part. It involves a lot of scrabbling around but everything has its place. I led the Eucharist with little assembly-style links and taught some sacramental theology on the way.
Feedback was really positive:
“Just a note to say how much my family enjoyed Blessed’s Nursery Rhyme mass at this year’s Greenbelt Festival. My two boys (4 & 6) had a thoroughly good time, and really marvelled at the opportunity to receive communion. As both an Ordinand (with SWMTC) and a Primary School Teacher, it also gave me lots to think about. Indeed, I ended up buying your ‘Alternative Sacramental Worship’ book, as well as will be downloading thenursery rhyme liturgy. Thank you.”
Although when one colleague commended the liturgy online it provoked a typical storm of backlash from some Romans, who only seem to be able to approach the sacraments with po-faced disapproval. The Eucharist is at the very heart of my being, but it is not Defeat which draws me to it, but Victory – the sacrifice of the mass is not sad because Jesus died, but joy in the triumph of the Resurrection and His presence with us in broken bread and wine outpoured. This worship is not therefore as they might see it a mockery of the Church but a celebration of all that it gives to all ages. I’m with Pope Francis on this, not Pope Emeritus Benedict and they should lighten up.
For everyone else, it was just what Greenbelt was about: fun and prayerful. Praise God!
2. Blessed Big Top Big Bash
We didn’t get much time between the end of the NRM and the Big Top gig. As a diabetic, lunch is non-negotiable so by the time we had a sandwich it was time to be at the Big Top. We only had 30 mins get in and as we arrived the previous stage was not yet struck. Cue more franticness and a team working well together. My stress was the need to find a new phone battery from my bag. The WiFi link between the laptop and the tablet is essential, as I have taken to using Splashtop to provide an altar monitor: no wires, no fuss but with no WiFi, it doesn’t work. A colleague calmed me down in just the right way and when the Bowie Diamond Dogs video started and Metanoia kicked in with an Aerosmith song the adrenaline was on.
The liturgy was really good, with a dozen concelebrants, and a Big Top with 700 people in it, who got it (with one exception – a man who seeming hated everything at the festival this year). The band were on form: Ruth wrote this amazing Mass Setting especially for the worship, and even though I messed up the beginning, it was a wonderful setting. I hope they’ll use it elsewhere and further in their Rock Masses, which I hope to come up and celebrate sometime soon.
Knotty Intercessions were a highlight – when we did them live at Walsingham, the bits of cloth all linked together like a messy spider’s web, but for Greenbelt the OCD-ness of the congregation came out and there was a massive single strand of prayer. One person said “I didn’t want to add my strip because they had my prayers on, but when I saw another piece just like mine in the line, I knew I had to given them up!” Just like our own prayers, I suppose. I just kept pulling it and it went on and on. In the end, I started improvising more lines about our prayers being linked: a common thread. The best we’ve done in the intercessions I think, and of course, tribute goes to the person who had the original idea: my youngest daughter Zoe.
The Penitential rite was in the middle, because it moved us from dystopia to utopia and used my favourite gimmick: the flash paper.
What else needs to be said about what God does with our sin?
No end of positive feedback for this one:
Other things in the Festival
- Holy Ground – who used an early experiment by me in Kinetic Typography. A really good exploration of sheltering from the Storm in Christ
- Goth Eucharist – mentioned previously. I would have prefered more band than nChant, but that’s my personal preference. Fr Edward even did an impromptu baptism as everyone else renewed their promises, and because he did so, I know there will be proper follow up, post baptismal care and documentation of that.
- Les Mis Mass – normally I am very vocal in my aversion to Les Miserables but I have to admit this really worked. Carol’s idea really came off and she should be congratulated for that. Fr J celebrates beautifully.
- U2Charist – which suffered from technical issues with the screen but was musically awesome (Metanoia again!)
- Meeting Susan Sayers – what an inspiration this lady is: recovering from a stroke and yet still sitting on the floor with children, using simple ideas for worship and engagement with God.
- Beer and Hymns. The idea is to drink some beer and sing some hymns. Nuff Said.
The other highlights was encountering and chatting to many good people, too numerous to mention, but I learnt a lot from you this year (especially you, Fr E!). The Jesus Arms is where many of this took place and over a beer seems to be the best place to engage with theology, I think.
Comments on “Greenbelt 2013”
I’ll sort the pics out when I’m back home. Have spent the last couple of days trying to catch the balls I’d stopped juggling whilst at GB and sleeping.
When I get back from Whitby in the morning I’ll try to sort it.