Have to be up at Stupid-O’Clock tomorrow to get a train to Coventry for the next Round Table Discussion on the Fresh Expressions Brand Campaign. Although I remain a little cynical about the corporatisation of these little ragbag collections of individuals, underneath it is a wonderful opportunity for those working in this field to share with one another, to support each other on the journey, to steal borrow resources and ideas from one another, and it gets underwritten by the Church! Blesséd simply wouldn’t have the money to get me to these meetings under my own steam, so for that 0.0000000001% of your quota that has gone to fresh expressions and is converted into a train ticket tomorrow, I thank you all.
Without the Fresh Expressions corporate brand, I would not have had the chance to share a journey with Sue from Visions (and her wonderful music), Ian from Moot (and that brilliant stuff on community life and prayer), Michael from feig and Roderick from Contemplative Fire; Toby and Sally, I knew already, Tim Sledge is an ikon of this field anyway; and many, many others. This has taught me so much, and I consider myself privileged to share a table with them…
Blesséd has always been too badly behaved to be a formal “fresh expression”, it limps from event to event with no formal funding, just kind benefactors and priests who don’t mind too much when we burn a hole in their carpet [mea culpa, Father Draper!. This is the essence of what a fresh expression ought to look like: locally based, poorly funded, shockingly ramshackle and yet filled with a deep yearning for God in its midst. Perhaps that is why I instantly resist the knee-jerk “Fresh Expression? Let’s do a Cafe Church!” unthinking response. More recently that has become “Fresh Expression? Let’s do a U2Charist!”. You can hear me yawning from here. Authentic worship from authentic communities is what we are called to, not a blind aping of someone else’s creativity.
The next task is for us to come together and create a liturgy which is authentic to a number of these small, intimate and distinctly different communities which will be presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury of December 8th in Coventry Cathedral. An entire day of prayer, worship, pilgrimage, eucharistic devotion and reflection: not a conference, but a space in which all those in a Catholic, Contemplative sphere can share and grow. I hope many anglocatholic clergy, readers of this blog, worshippers, community members and all can come up to Coventry for this. I pray that Blesséd may have a contribution in this mass.
What might Blesséd’s contribution look like?
…or much more likely, none of the above?