Whenever I go to ministers' gatherings, one of the most precious parts is the sharing of communion - and I love it best when it is the last thing we do together, as it was here.
With a fair deal of creativity, we were led into a gentle time of sharing and blessing each other, feasible in a context where there were only ~20 of us. I could be sniffy about the use of two cups, one with fermented wine and the other with prune juice (!) but to do so would be unfair.
As part of the sharing, we were invited to offer to those to whom we felt led a word of encouragement or blessing, lirturgical, scriptural or, in my case, just plain English. There were two people I wanted to encourage, and they, plus one other, blessed/encouraged me. However God does stuff, what they said really touched me, and spoke to inner places...
- one person prayed for me and in so doing named the isolation that arises from being a woman minister in a Scottish Baptist context
- one person offered me 'well done, good and faithful servant'
- one person thanked me for coming and for particpating fully in the discussions
In the course of this communion service, the leader used the inclusive language NIV, I appreciated that. And we sang a Taize chant (adoramus te Domine) which was lovely, as well as a more ubquitous worship song 'Light of the World, You Stepped Down into Darkness'
I travelled home much lighter of spirit, and not 'just' because I was going home, but because I had been blessed and encouraged and not a little humbled.
This doesn't mean everything in BUS-land is rosy, that suddenly all my moans and groans will cease... but I think what I realise is that for all their foibles, faults, carelessness in language, sometime sexism and even outright misogyny in some cases, I am learning to love these guys, these brothers in Christ, who are doing their best to fulfil the calls on their lives.
There's still a needed for sanctified stroppiness, there's still a way to go, but perhaps today I glimsped the green shoots of spring in unexpected places.