So we did it! Yesterday we held the final services in our beloved tatty building and moved out to spend some time 'camping' in a hotel just up the road.
On Saturday evening, a group of us walked round the whole building (apart from the hard hat area) recalling how each space had been employed for mission or ministry, offering a short prayer and symbolically switching off lights as we went, until we left the building in darkness.
Yesterday's morning service was a pack out, with nigh on a hundred folk, including a couple of dozen guests/visitors, sharing in an interactive and innovative service that had been created and delivered by a small team of gifted folk. We sang hymns and songs that are meaningful for us, some expressing faith, others our aspirations. We shared memories in different parts of the building, guided by members of our Sunday School and/or we watched a compilation of wedding videos stretching back several decades. We recorded memories of the past and hopes for the future. We reflected on scripture - the Hebrews 11 Cloud of Witnesses who urge us on, and the Matthew 28 Christ who is always present with those who God sends out for the work of mission. We packed up a box with the Bible, cross, chalice and cloths from the table. We left the building singing, locked the door, shared a final prayer and walked, together, to the hotel for a 'welcome lunch'.
In the evening, thirty people, from at least five churches, sat in a ring and shared a service of reflection and bread-breaking. With Nicodemus, the intelligent, questioning man who sought out Jesus by night, with Jacob who wrestled with God all night at Peniel (being left with a limp for his pains), with the young people urged to seek out the counsel of Sophia, spirit wisdom, and the Hebrew church encouraged by Paul to keep on keeping on, we reflected on how this service came about, what it attempts and why it is important, ecumencially, theologically, spiritually. We recorded more memories. We broke bread and drank "wine". We sang of the God who has 'more light and truth to break forth from the Word' and we 'marched in the light of God' to share refreshments at the church who will pick up our 'hosting' role in alternate months.
A long day (or weekend) and an important one. Very grateful to A, A, H and P who worked on creating the morning service, and to those others who, largely unobserved even by me, worked behind to scenes to bring it all together.
Advent - Adventure... Coming - Becoming... Transition and Continuity...
From the old we travel to the new, and the eternal God travels with us.