Well we made it to the sixth date with D+1 and we made it through the date, and then we ate cake, courtesy of the nice people at M&S (this is not just cake...).
It was one of those services that could have been an unmitigated disaster but, by the grace of God, emerged into something meaningful and memorable, for at least some of the right reasons!
Due to differing personalities and some resultant misunderstandings, I began by literally running, 2 minutes before the service began, to my house for equipment that the person taking today's service needed, lobbing it in the car and rushing back to the school as the service got underway. There are various lessons for various people to learn from this, but thankfully humour and forebearance prevailed and we got there, well almost, in the end. I knew the training for my little trek would come in useful as did my ability to generate powerpoint presentation ex nihilo during the service!
Although the theme was 'symbols' and we did spend some time sharing ideas on Christian symbols - with some resultant confusion between signs and symbols and even between activities and symbols - the main thrust seemed to be the image of church as God's house, a house with doors wide open to receive the neighbours, as more and more are invited in. I liked the imagery and the open-door metaphor which allowed some important ideas around potential merger and mission to be touched upon.
By one of those wierd Holy Spirit thingies (now that phrase will annoy the real theologians who read this!) I had built my intercessions on the twin pillars of the nursery rhymne 'here's the church, here's the steeple....' and the 'hands/fingers' model from my Sunday School teacher days. Admit it, you never knew these were pillars of anything! Anyway, it seemed to fit in well with where the service went. Our intercessions concluded with prayer for St "Smell's & Bells" who have made a decision to close, something that will take at least a year to work through, and for Revd NAM of D+1 who now moves on to pastures new.
So we concluded our worship and shared cake, in honour of Revd NAM, and a cuppa.
It was a time of celebration with Revd NAM and our friends from D+1, with a lovely buzz of conversation and some mingling. We have come a long way from the tentative first date in February when it was dark and cold and we all wondered how this might unfold. We have sung all manner of hymns and songs, been traditional and contemporary, creative and staid - and we we are still here, still smiling and now beginning to celebrate together! God is good.
There's a long road ahead, and the destination is far from clear but this was not just cake... it was celebration of God's grace, the Spirit's indwelling, Christ's resurrection ... a trinitarian perichoretic dance of joy and freedom reaching out to draw us in to the eternal 'grand chain' that is the Missio Dei, ... and it was also fun!